Despite the humour, there’s a lot of history and knowledge in this book too.
This follow-up to Dominic Knight’s comical lexicon, Strayapedia, is another witty nod to Aussie culture.
It goes to great lengths to insist that the book is fact-free, both on the rear cover and in the author’s introduction but in fact, it’s spot on with some biting observations that humorously describe the meaning and use of each word or name.
His entry on our country’s national anthem, Advance Australia Fair, is a good example of this, ripping apart the irony of being ‘young and free’ despite being home to the oldest indigenous population and beginning white settlement as a penal colony. Similarly, his paragraphs on 28th Prime Minister Tony Abbott are a jovial slap in the face for any fan of the man.
Knight endeavours not to repeat himself so excludes words such as ‘Melbourne’ which were covered in the previous book. Instead, you’ll find words like Honey Badger, Muriel’s Wedding, Hoon, Nauru and Economic Rationalisation. If you’ve not heard of Zuytdorp, it’s the final entry in Australia Post’s alphabetical listing of postcodes.
Despite the humour, there’s a lot of history and knowledge in this book too. Knight often uses his descriptions to provide broader knowledge than just the word or expression itself. The description Mardi Gras, for example, not only goes into what it is and how it all began, but dips into religious bigotry and how religious leaders such as Fred Nile work against the Bible’s view that “God is love”.
Then again, other entries, like Bathers, offer a one-word definition.
Whether you enjoy a laugh or would like to learn some Aussie slang, The Strayan Dictionary offers both in a way that is entertaining and memorable.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Distributed by: Allen & Unwin
Released: December 2019