Kangaroos – The 100 Days Project: Day 48 
Photo: Ray Drew
Australia has often been typified as the land of the tall story (see Peter Carey’s Illywhacker, or the film Crocodile Dundee). A good many of those stories seem to stand on large kangaroo feet. Although, as already stated, there would appear to be only the one instance recorded of a human killed by a kangaroo, the myth of the killer kangaroo is strong, based on the one hand by tale after tale (I heard a fresh one just a week ago) of dogs grasped in kangaroo fore-paws and dismembered by one kick of a massive, clawed foot, and on the other the practice, among kangaroo males, of preparing for, sorting out and maintaining their place in the mob’s order-of-dominance through what to all intents and purposes look like ritualised boxing matches.
The boxing kangaroo is an Australian icon and frequent international celebrity. I’ll return to this in a later post. Meanwhile (repressing my pacifist proclivities, and withholding remarks concerning animal cruelty) it occurs to me that fans of action movies might appreciate a tale of a kangaroo who, although trapped and enslaved, like Spartacus, nevertheless defeats, in the ring, all humans thrust at him (unlikely as it is that he’ll be rewarded for his victories by release or an easy retirement).
A passage, then – a powerful and disturbing passage – from John Scott’s N, a remarkable novel set in a mid-twentieth century fascist Australia:
– John A. Scott, N (Blackheath NSW: Brandl & Schlesinger, 2014), 416-18
John A. Scott is the author of sixteen books of poetry and prose. His work has been widely translated. He has received Victorian Premier’s prizes for both poetry and fiction. The film version of his What I Have Written, for which he wrote the screenplay, received an AWGIE award for best screenplay adaptation and won the International Mystery Film Festival in Bologna. His novels Before I Wake and The Architect were both shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award and the Victorian Premier’s prize. His Selected Poems (1968-90) appeared in 1995. Warra Warra, a ‘ghost story’ parable of the white invasion of Australia, was published in 2003. He lives with designer Elizabeth Francis in the village of Trentham, Victoria.