Russell Darnley's experiences in Asia are somewhat like my own. We've both spent considerable time in Bali, Singapore, and Indonesia, where Russell lived for a number of years. I lived in Japan, another place that Russell wrote about. Russell is Australian; I'm American. Seen and Unseen is a collection of short stories based on Russell`s memoirs but, as I read, I often found myself remembering similar situations, or comparing his descriptions of a certain place with my own.
Russell's ability to speak Indonesian put him in the midst of the hospitals and makeshift morgues of Kuta immediately after the Bali Bombing. Reading his words, I felt like I was there. This sense of being beside the author occurred throughout the book, and thankfully, often in much more positive places than Kuta during that terrible time.
Russell's writing style is, for the most part conversational. He recreates dialogues and places them within a chronological structure. This simple method allows him to provide easily understood insights into complex matters. Russell gracefully overcomes the challenges of using non-English words in an English language text. We can understand, for example, an Indonesian word because of its context or by the way it's used by a character. Russell spent a significant portion of his life in Indonesia. The result of all of this is that we can how political decisions affect peoples lives, especially those political decisions involving more than one country.
photo of Russell Darnley from www.anza.org.sg
In short, I enjoyed reading Seen and Unseen because it was like having an intelligent older relative sharing with me the details of a life well lived.
To give you an idea of the scope of the book, I present you with a few titles of the book's twenty-nine chapters:
Sid Thompson and D Company
Red Poppies and Janur
An Encounter With White Australia
Surviving the Sixties
Balikpapan: Looking Backwards and Forwards
Kampanye- The Campaign Procession
An Unusual Kind of Thunder
Singapore 43 Years on
I should mention that Russell gave me a copy of Seen and Unseen in the Tiong Bahru Market, which is where we met. Finally, I wrote a book, Bali Wave Ghost, that constantly makes reference to the Bali Bombing.
Seen and Unseen on Amazon
FWIW, Russell has been spotted in The Oak Bar.
(I apologize for the formatting of this post. I am unsure as to why my previews always show a much more attractive spacing and layout, but once I publish, the posts look like this one...)