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Inside Out is a story about survival and taking risks, about seizing the moment and living with the consequences, about the adventure of being alive. In this wonderful book, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes funny, Robert Adamson tells the story of his childhood and early adulthood in fifties and sixties Australia—a world of milkbars, the bottle-O, fishing and V8s.
A childhood in Neutral Bay and on the Hawkesbury nurtures his love of wildlife, which drives him to act on instinct, beginning with the spectacular theft of an exotic bird from Taronga Park Zoo. He then spends much of his adolescence in and out of boys’ homes and later prisons. In between stints inside he works as a pastry cook and becomes besotted with the sultry, dark-haired Carol. Together they take off on a wild road trip to Queensland—a journey that could only ever have one ending.
But prison has its own destiny for young Robert. It introduces this sensitive, responsive young man to the debating society, to books, and to a love affair with words. It sets alight Adamson’s imagination and fosters his dream of becoming a writer.
Inside Out is so much more than a memoir, it brims with life as Adamson unsentimentally re-creates his past experiences, no matter how dark or painful, with astonishing generosity and sympathy.
‘The cold, beautiful mystery of birds and rivers, the flight from and return to family, the detonations set off in the head by visionary French and Minnesotan poets…herein lies a tale of love and theft, a man-child pilgrimage through seasons in hell told without recrimination or excuse. I drank this book in long, great gulps of recognition.’
‘Robert Adamson is one of Australia’s national treasures.’
‘Poets are born, not made…yet they have to survive the often bitter rites of passage so as to have that life they are given. Robert Adamson’s story is one of miracles, of common dreams, of pain, separation and hard-earned triumph. It is told with a wonderful humor and recognition of himself and all related. Truly, Adamson is not only a great poet but an enduring, consummately committed and particular human being. That’s as good as it ever can get.’