Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Moreton Bay figs

Queensland-born author Simon Cleary's first published novel is called "The Comfort of Figs", and I have just finished reading it. It is set in Brisbane, and central to the story are two inanimate objects - the Story Bridge and the Moreton Bay fig. The novel links the time of the construction of the bridge with the present through the relationship between a man and his father.

I found the novel interesting on a few levels. Firstly, the Story Bridge and the men who built it. I have previously confessed an interest in bridges, and this novel interleaves the factual design and construction of the bridge and its iconic status in Brisbane with the fictional story-line.

Then there is the Moreton Bay fig, ubiquitous in Brisbane, and famous for tales of the destruction and the rescue of various fig trees around the city, usually headlined by the amount of money involved in each venture. The novel links a group protesting the removal of trees for a highway and the protagonist via a romantic association with one of the protesters. And lastly, the father-son relationship is explored in all its complexity, with the bridge and the tree both playing important roles in the development of that story.

Photo 1: Workers on the Bridge; Brisbane's Story Bridge, 17/06/2006.

Photo 2: Under the Trees; Moreton Bay fig trees at New Farm, 15/11/2007.


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