Holden Memories

My Experiences with Holden

On October 20th 2017, the last Holden left the assembly line. With it came the end of 69 years of the car brand’s Australian production history and the end of the Australian automotive industry. On that day, I travelled for the first time to the Holden plant in Elizabeth for a farewell event. A slight tear was in my eye as I approached the plant, seeing all the cars already lined up. It’s with this that I realise that this truly was the end.

Some of you might be asking why would I be talking about a car brand on my page. Well, Holden has been a massive part of my life, and has influenced me as both as a person and as a writer. I will be looking into why it’s special to me and how it’s influenced my writing career.

Right from when I was born, Holden was a part of my life. My parents owned a VH Commodore at the time I was born (1994), a fine car according to them. A few years later they upgraded to the much larger VN Commodore. That VN took me, my parents, and my baby sister across the Nullarbor Plain from my hometown of Adelaide to Perth for a holiday and back again with no problems. We later sold this car off around 2004, which began our brief no Holden period. My parents upgraded to a red VZ in 2009, which they continue to own to now. These family cars had made a major impact on me in a family sense as some of my best family memories are all in these Holdens. I still have memories of driving across that endless stretch of the Nullarbor in that VN, playing with a toy computer and the music of Cream and The Traveling Wilburys playing.

There’s then my family’s history of Holden. Both my parents had a Holden as their first car: my Dad had a Kingswood, and my Mum a Sunbird. When I was younger my Poppa also had a blue early model Commodore, which I still have many memories of. I remember how everything squeaked, the glass plates full of toast crumbs on the floor, and the conversations me and him had about planes and trains.

For me, my parent’s VZ was the first car I learnt to drive in when I got my Learners. Right from the moment I knew I wanted to own a Holden, which came true. My first car was a 1990 JK Apollo (a rebadged Toyota Camry). This car was everything to me in my late teens and early 20s. I took pride in it, even displaying it at a Holden show or two over the years. In 2015, I finally had enough money to buy my first “true” Holden: a VE Commodore. It was sad to say goodbye to my old Apollo, but at the same time I was happy to finally be a Commodore owner. I still own this car and continue to take pride in it. I do someday though intend to upgrade to a VF (the last Aussie built model), but that can wait a few more years.

It’s from all these personal experiences that it’s only natural that Holden has seeped into my writing. I’ve written many stories over the years where a Holden car of some sort has appeared. One of my Speakeasy Zine stories, ‘The Lion Roars’, features a possessed HK Monaro as the central antagonist. The first novel I ever wrote contained an FE Holden which was used as a connection between the real world and another dimension. Holden’s prevalence has even seeped into ‘Under the Southern Cross’, my current WIP novel. My main character, Ash, is a worker in a car factory which was inspired by the now defunct Elizabeth plant. I also make mention of classic Holdens, like the FJ and FB (my favourite classic Holden models) as symbols of freedom.

Holden has always been a central part to my life dreams. I imagine myself driving down the road in a classic Holden (mainly FB or FJ) listening to 50s/60s music and the sun shining. It’s a very farfetched dream I know, but it’s still one of my more normal ones. My other great dream is driving a Holden in an unusual part of the world. I would love drive a Holden, both classic and modern, through places like Singapore, Hong Kong, and Japan to name a few places. It sounds crazy I know, but it would make for some very interesting stories to tell, and would certainly turn heads.

Finding Holden in fiction works apart from my own is exciting to me. Some of my favourite Australian stories and films feature a Holden in some way shape or form. Some of my favourite classic Holden models appear in films like The Cars That Ate Paris (1974), while modern films like Wolf Creek (2005) feature more recent models. Once again in literature, some of my favourite Australian stories have Holden featured in them too. The first Wolf Creek prequel novel (Origin) features Holden in it, which combined with the character of Mick Taylor portrays them in that dark way, which I like. As for short stories, an LJ Torana features in the titular story from Jason Fischer’s Everything is a Graveyard short story collection. Having the Torana in that story gave a unique homely feel to an already frighteningly good tale.

Holden has played an important part in my development as a person and as a writer. It’s an icon that helped build Australia to what we see today. Thank you for the memories and story ideas you have given me Holden. There’s still many more memories to be had, even if they’re no longer built here.

For those who are interested in learning more about Holden, below are some links to some articles and videos/documentaries that I believe are great sources to learn about this car brand.

Articles

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-20/how-holden-changed-australia-forever/9011198 – an article about the impact Holden has made on Australia

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-19/holdens-outsized-role-in-australian-arts-and-funding/9042118 – an article about how Holden inspired artists and fund the arts

 

Videos

Part one of a two part TV special from 1986

A Four Corners episode dedicated to why Holden closed down and who would it affect

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Nightmare Reading

Five Short Story Collections to Keep You Up This October

October has arrived! This is the month when we love to curl up in a blanket and scare ourselves with something from horror (imo, anytime in the year is great for horror). One of these ways we like to scare ourselves is through the written word. Are you looking for a read that’ll keep you up at night this Halloween? Want to get into short horror fiction but not sure where to start? Look no further than the five short story collections below, which I believe are great places to start.

Night Shift – Stephen King

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This is just one of King’s many short story collections. Within these pages, you’ll find some of King’s earliest works of the macabre and terror, which will make you leave the light on at night. Stories like ‘Graveyard Shift’ will chill your bones while others like ‘The Mangler’ will make you gasp in abject horror. You’ll even find the stories that inspired the films Children of the Corn, The Lawnmower Man, and Maximum Overdrive in here. This is a great short story collection introduction to the “King” of contemporary horror.

Nightmare At 20,000 Feet – Richard Matheson

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This is a must-have for any fan of horror fiction. In this collection, you’ll be given many different stories, each one more frightening than the other. Matheson will scare the shit out of you and leave you clawing for more. The best stories in this collection include ‘Blood Son’, ‘Through Channels’, and ‘Likeness of Julie’. The most famous story in this collection though is the titular one, which inspired the Twilight Zone episode that starred William Shatner. I can’t recommend this collection enough; it’s fantastic, terrifying horror which will haunt you long after you finish reading it.

Everything is a Graveyard – Jason Fischer

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Fischer, an Adelaide author, has crafted some magnificent tales of terror and oddness with a hint of humour with this collection. You’ll find tales of killer kangaroos, zombies, and jesusmen, most if not all with an Australian setting in here, a majority of them fantastic examples of Oz Spec fic. The best stories to find in this collection are: ‘Hunting Rufus’, ‘Goggy’, and ‘Everything is a Graveyard’. Pick this up if you want some tales which will scare the pants off you and bring horror to the strange, alien world known as Australia.

The Illustrated Man – Ray Bradbury

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This is more of a sci-fi collection than horror, but don’t let that fool you. Some of the tales in here are of pure nail-biting horror, which is why it’s on this list. Some of those horror tales include the Poe-esque ‘Usher II’ and the insanity of endless rains on Venus in ‘The Long Rain’. Even the sci-fi tales come with a nightmare feeling, especially the terror of floating out of control in space in ‘Kaleidoscope’. This is a great collection for you to get a great blend of sci-fi and horror, and for those unfamiliar with Bradbury.

Short Ghost Stories: The Man with the Axe in His Back – Queenie Chan

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Unlike the others on this list, this collection of four short stories are comics-prose (a combination of comics and prose fiction). Each of these four tales from Chan is gut-wrenchingly terrifying, only made even better with the addition of the visual storytelling. The manga art styling of the comics is gorgeous and is well mixed in with Twilight Zone-like storytelling. My own personal favourite is ‘The Hollow Tree’, which is set in WW2 era Singapore with a boy hiding in a tree. Get this collection if you want to read some truly unique, terrifying stories which are unlike anything you’ve read before. You can get a prose only copy too if you’re not keen on comics, but I heavily recommend the comics-prose version.

Book Talk: September 2017

September has been a month yet again full of many events. Reports of the world ending on September 23rd, the AFL Grand Final, and finally, It getting released (it’s fantastic) all happened this month! For me, September was when I finally watched Stranger Things and my SNES Classic Mini (which I’m playing right now). This month in terms of reading was what I call “Ape-tember”. I coined this term because I read novels where apes were an essential part of the story this past month.

Novels

Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs

First published in 1912, Tarzan of the Apes follows the main character Tarzan, the son of a respected British house, who is raised by apes in West Africa. This is the first book in the long-running series and introduces us to the now famous Tarzan and his love interest, Jane Porter, and to that fascinating world of the African jungle.

I used to enjoy the Tarzan cartoon from Disney when I was younger and his scream has been instilled into my memory. When I found out in a bookstore that they were all descended from books by Edgar Rice Burroughs my curiosity grew even more. From there it led me to read this, as well as a fascination with Burroughs’ other legendary series: John Carter of Mars.

Anyway, Tarzan of the Apes was an interesting read. I really enjoyed reading this story, even if it’s a little dense and clunky by modern standards. The story of Tarzan’s origins as well as him being around the apes really interested me and was very intriguing. Most of all, the characters were my favourite part of this story. Despite being written over 100 years old, the characters of particularly Tarzan and Jane still feel relevant in today’s world.

However, in contrast to A Princess of Mars, Burroughs’ other work of the time, Tarzan of the Apes hasn’t aged well. As I said before: the writing is a little clunky and dense, which is slightly disappointing. Burroughs’ description of the natives is slightly racist by today’s standards, but it’s a piece of its time and is forgivable.

Tarzan of the Apes may not have aged too well, but it’s a fascinating look into where a pop culture icon started. The story is timeless and still has a fresh feel to this day, despite becoming a storytelling cliché. If you like the Tarzan movies, or early 20th-century genre literature, give this a read. If you’re new to the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs, start with A Princess of Mars and then come to this.

3.5/5

Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle

First published in 1963, Planet of the Apes follows a group of people who travel from Earth to the nearby star of Betelgeuse. Whilst on their journey, they discover a planet identical to Earth, which they name Soror. However, there’s something unusual about this world. That unusualness is that primates are the dominant creatures on this planet, not humans.

I’m a fan of the 1968 adaptation of this book, which stars Charlton Heston. It’s an impressive film of its time, and the ending is wow! I know it’s been said so much over the years by film critics and pop culture, but it’s still a fantastic ending. Despite its recognition by some as being one of the best sci-fi films of the 1960s, it’s nothing like the book. In fact, I don’t think there’s ever been a Planet of the Apes adaptation that has caught the essence of this book.

It’s this major difference from the book is why I really enjoyed reading it. I loved the imagination behind it, and all the similarities between Soror and Earth. Perhaps my favourite part of this novel is that it depicts the French travelling through space rather than Americans. This new perspective to me is fresh and thrilling to read, which makes this memorable. The characters were really well done too, especially Nova who didn’t even really talk at all to the main character. Her character development is well done for someone who can’t speak. Like the first movie, the ending to this story is really twisted and nothing to what I was expecting (hint: it’s completely different to the movies).

Planet of the Apes is a very interesting read, and is vastly different to all its film adaptations. If you love the films and want to know where it began, read this. If you want a space travel story unlike others out there, read this. I can’t recommend this classic of sci-fi enough.

4.5/5

Short Stories

As always, I’ll keep my thoughts on short stories brief to prevent spoilers, and for the fact that they’re short stories.

Bright Phoenix by Ray Bradbury

From A Pleasure to Burn; ‘Bright Phoenix’ is set in a library during a book burning frenzy. I really liked the premise of this story, and all the thoughts around books being dangerous. Despite this, it’s not the most memorable story in the collection to me.

3/5

The Mad Wizards of Mars by Ray Bradbury

This story is full of imagination that I find hard to say in these words. Also from A Pleasure to Burn, ‘The Mad Wizards of Mars’ is a fascinating piece that has Edgar Allan Poe on Mars. This is very Martian Chronicles-like, which is why I had a lot of fun with this. Give this a read if you want a story that’s both unique and strange.

4/5