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Imagine the document you have before you is not a book but a map. It is well-used, creased, and folded, so that when you open it, no matter how carefully, something tears and a line that is neither latitude nor longitude opens in the hidden geography of the place you are about to enter. Since the publication of her prize-winning memoir Craft for a Dry Lake, in 2000, writer and artist Kim Mahood has been returning to the Tanami desert country in far north-western Australia where, as a child, she lived with her family on a remote cattle station. The land is timeless, but much has changed- the station has been handed back to its traditional owners; the mining companies have arrived; and Aboriginal art has flourished. Comedy and tragedy, familiarity and uncertainty are Mahood's constant companions as she immerses herself in the life of a small community and in groundbreaking mapping projects. What emerges in Position Doubtful is a revelation of the significance of the land to its people - and of the burden of history. Mahood is an artist of astonishing versatility. She works with words, with paint, with installations, and with performance art. Her writing about her own work and collaborations, and about the work of the desert artists, is profoundly enlightening, making palpable the link between artist and country. This is a beautiful and intense exploration of friendships, landscape, and homecoming. Written with great energy and humour, Position Doubtful offers a unique portrait of the complexities of black and white relations in contemporary Australia. 'A shimmering, evocative memoir (that is) required reading for anyone interested in contemporary Aboriginal Australia a Position Doubtful opens the heart to understanding.' - Books+Publishing Mahood is a writer of country. Her chapters unfurl like the ribbons of red dune ... The rich pulse of country makes the heart quake with recognition. Position Doubtful has the scale and delicacy of desert and records genuine Aboriginal voice and emotion. - Bruce Pascoe, award-winning author of Dark Emu, Fog a Dox, and Convincing Ground (Mahood) is a talented writer whose mastery of the language is absolute. The combination of an artist's eye, a mapmaker's precision, and a wordsmith's playfulness makes for a work of captivating beauty a a significant and timely work. - Weekend Australian
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About the Author

Kim Mahood is a writer and artist based in Wamboin, near Canberra, whose 2000 memoir, Craft for a Dry Lake, won the NSW Premier's Award for non-fiction and the Age Book of the Year for non-fiction. Her artwork is held in state, territory, and regional collections, and her essays have appeared in Griffith Review, Meanjin, and The Best Australian Essays. In 2013, she was awarded the Peter Blazey Fellowship for a non-fiction work in progress, and was shortlisted for the Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize. In 2014, she was awarded the H C Coombs Fellowship at the Australian National University.

Reviews

'There is something profound about the directness and clarity with which Kim Mahood writes about her art, and her life, in particular her relationship with the land she grew up in and on, and her relationship to the indigenous people who have lived on that land much longer than she. As Mahood writes of - quite literally - building a map that is both geographic, social and cultural, you feel that she has, ever so gently, shifted your view of the world. Position Doubtful is a remarkable, intelligent and mature work. I really loved it.' - Sophie Cunningham;'Position Doubtful leaps straight onto the shelf occupied by the great accounts of inland Australia. Theatrical, confessional, masterly descriptive, it is hard to find one word to sum up the achievement. Possibly it lies in the word character: in the brave character of the author herself, and in the spacious, beautiful, and unforgiving character of the Australian landscape and the people who dramatically take on its shape in these pages.' - Roger McDonald;'Kim Mahood is an astonishing treasure: an accomplished artist and writer who is equally well-equipped to navigate both Aboriginal and settler Australia. Her lyrical yet unsentimental memoir is a story of honouring the knowledge that two cultures have mapped upon each other, a lesson the entire globe needs to learn.' - William L. Fox, Director, Center for Art + Environment, Nevada Museum of Art;'[Kim Mahood's] clear-sighted journey across the cultural fault-lines of her past also resonates with a contemporary political edge, deepening our understandings of identity and the human condition.' - 2013 Peter Blazey Fellowship judges;'The rich pulse of country makes the heart quake with recognition. Mahood belongs to country and it blesses her with that most refined human sensitivity, doubt. She is not tempted to improve or judge the communities of her country because she prefers to love them; the whole buckled, lovely and jumbled chaos of the land.' - Bruce Pascoe;'With her artist's eye, Kim Mahood tracks the small quotidian details of lived life in the desert, but it is her poet's voice which brings that land to life in ways that are entirely new and unexpected.' - John Wolseley;'Position Doubtful, like Chloe Hooper's The Tall Man, is required reading for anyone interested in contemporary Aboriginal Australia. Mahood has lived too long among Indigenous people to idealise or peer through theoretical rose-coloured glasses at what should be. She is also honest about her own shortcomings when approaching Aboriginal culture and life. This is a memoir that opens the heart to understanding.' - Books + Publishing

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