From hot sand and Chiko Rolls to family BBQs and neighbourly disputes, Australia Day is upon us and Alex Dunkin’s engaging black comedy is the ideal ode to all things Aussie.
Under the oppression of a soaring heatwave, locals and tourists converge on Founders Bay for the annual celebration of our nation. The local Mayor bounces from a Survival Day event to a citizenship ceremony while Jonno, Jacko and the gang get progressively drunker and more agro on the beach.
Between tinnies, Breezers, and chardonnay for mum, there’s back-to-school sales and the announcement of the Australian of the Year. An ocean rip follows an invasion of jellyfish, and tempers sizzle alongside the sausages while a local bushfire edges closer.
Exploring what Australia means to us, Dunkin has drawn up a checklist of modern day issues, not all of them fun. Patriotism, violence and racism raise their head right alongside nods to skinny dipping, Aussiebums and board shorts.
The caricatures that populate Founders Bay make for a great yarn with a dark twist. The conclusion is difficult to see coming but one that’s explained in Dunkin’s Afterword where he talks about the challenge of writing in the style of the Italian Cannibale genre, embracing violence and all things grotesque in modern culture. He succeeds admirably, highlighting the good intentions and bad deeds that can mar any celebration, particularly once the booze starts flowing.
Fair Day is a celebration of Australia Day but it’s also a disturbing warning of how we are evolving – and devolving – as a nation. The comedic situations are all disturbingly familiar, at least initially until they go horribly wrong. There’s nought wrong with this book though. It’s a highly enjoyable read with a uniquely macabre climax.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 9
Published by: Buon-Cattivi Press
Release date: November 2017
Disclaimer: Author Alex Dunkin is an Arts contributor to Glam Adelaide.