Lech Blaine

Top Blokes

My Quarterly Essay about class, masculinity and the Australian larrikin is called TOP BLOKES. It will be published on September 13. It can be purchased via your local bookstore on online from Booktopia.

“What makes a top bloke? Does the myth of the larrikin still hold sway? And whatever happened to class in Australia? In this perceptive and often hilarious essay, Lech Blaine dissects some top blokes, with particular focus on Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese, but stretching back to Bob Hawke and Kerry Packer. This is a riveting narrative of how image conquered politics, just as globalisation engulfed the Australian economy. While many got rich and entertained, look where we ended up.

Blaine shows how first Howard, then Morrison, brought a cohort of voters over to the Coalition side, “flipping” what was once working-class Labor culture. He weaves in his own experiences as he explores the persona of the Aussie larrikin. What are its hidden contradictions – can a larrikin be female, Indigenous or Muslim, say? – and how has it been transformed by an age of affluence? He makes the case that the time has come to bury a myth and for the nation to seize a new reality.”

Car Crash: A Memoir

CAR CRASH: A MEMOIR can be purchased from your local bookstore and online from Booktopia or Black Inc. Books. The audiobook version of CAR CRASH – narrated by actor Alec Snow – was released by Apple Books and Audible on the 1st of July.

“Blaine’s native tongue, an ocker irreverence, gives his writing an amiable charm and reflects the styles of artists such as Tim Winton, Miles Franklin, and Helen Garner.” Australian Book Review

“It’s as a memoir of the long twilight of the Howard years that Car Crash is at its most bruisingly insightful. Queensland is in the economic roil of the mining boom … but despite the prosperity there’s no grand narrative for what the country could be, just the empty shell of “mateship”.” The Guardian

“As an anatomy of a car crash and its reverberations in an age of social media, Car Crash delivers from the first arresting page. But it is also much more than this … He adeptly delivers a family saga, a social history and a bildungsroman set at the turn of the twenty-first century in southern Queensland.” Inside Story

“In fittingly hard-boiled, visceral prose, Blaine not only excavates the surreal horror of the crash and the aftermath, but also the utter inadequacy of the flimsy rituals and conventions that our society employs to keep the chaos death unleashes at bay.” The Age / Sydney Morning Herald

“Wielding both a razor-sharp command of language and a real gift for scene setting, Blaine revisits the trauma and recovery that unfolded … Evoking the best of Helen Garner’s coolly incisive non-fiction, Car Crash balances its tragic subject matter with gorgeous runs of prose, announcing a major new Australian voice.” – Apple Books

“On the back of such a book, Lech Blaine has developed a voice that suggests he may well be one of the best writers of his generation.” The New Daily

“Blaine’s buoyant voice keeps you engaged: its mordant, ocker-tinged humour counterweighs the book’s bleakness.” The Saturday Paper

“Lech Blaine is a preternaturally gifted young writer, still in his twenties. His prose shows an easy sophistication and surreal wit, constantly throwing out pleasant surprises.” North Melbourne Books

“Immediately compelling, energetic and intense – I tore through the opening pages with my heart racing. But the story soon expands into something much deeper and, ultimately, more moving.” Readings Bookstore

Car Crash is an accomplished debut that dissects ideas of grief, mateship, survivor’s guilt, stifling masculinity and class in regional Australia, and will be appreciated by fans of Don Watson, Corey White and Chloe Hooper.” — Books+Publishing

Car Crash: A Memoir

In 2009, Lech Blaine walked away unscratched from a fatal head-on collision outside Toowoomba. CAR CRASH: A MEMOIR is a riveting true story about family, identity, friendship and grief after tragedy.

TIM WINTON: “Scarifying and unforgettable, Car Crash is a story of carnage and life-long consequences – not just from a single, sudden catastrophe but from the long, slow cataclysm of masculine confusion.”

TRENT DALTON: “A heart-soaring act of literary bravery where the ongoing cost of experience is exposed in every note-perfect sentence … Some books just have to be written. And some books just have to be read.”

BRI LEE: “I began this book with my guts in my mouth. Then, as I read on, I winced with recognition, I laughed a lot and my heart gradually broke open … There are strong sentences, clarity of intent and tone, wicked one-liners and a mastery of metaphor.”

CAR CRASH: A MEMOIR is about the son of a publican in country Queensland, who dreams of being a writer, rather than an athlete like his older brothers. The story covers a young man’s recovery from depression and his first love during a natural disaster.

KRISTINA OLSSON: “A poetic, unflinching meditation on the exuberance of youth and the trauma of survival. It shines with a fierce intelligence.”

BENJAMIN LAW:Blaine’s journalism has long made me suspect he’s one of the best writers of his generation. Car Crash confirms it, without a doubt.”

BROOKE DAVIS: “This book is an astonishing insight into the wild work of grief, in all its dark corners, in all its bright illuminations.”

CAR CRASH: A MEMOIR will be published on March 30 2021. Pre-orders with free delivery are available at the Black Inc. Books website, or the book can be ordered via your favorite local bookshop. Inquiries about publicity for the book can be sent to Sallie at sallie@blackincbooks.com. Last year, the Canadian, American and British rights for Car Crash were acquired by Greystone Books.

ANNABEL CRABB: “Unbelievably compelling and great … Thoughtfully intense … A terrific book.”

RICK MORTON: “Car Crash is a phenomenal book. Beautiful and dark and compelling.”

The Emperor’s New Robe

For the February edition of The Monthly, I wrote a 9000-word essay about the unique charisma of Paul Pisasale, and the political disintegration of Ipswich under his leadership.

“Paul Pisasale was a criminal, wrapped in a capitalist, wrapped in a larrikin. His bizarre reign of lust and corruption was facilitated by a tsar-like willingness to attack those who resisted his cult of charisma.”

Read the story here, and subscribe to The Monthly today.

The Art of Class War

The Art of Class War

“The People’s Republic of Rugby League is the snoozing superpower of Australian sport. In 25 years’ time, COVID-19 might be remembered as the moment that a broken game woke up from the coma induced by
Super League and stopped losing ground to the AFL.”

My latest essay for The Monthly is a 9000-word deep dive into the People’s Republic of Rugby League. I interviewed ARLC chairman Peter V’landys, ARLC board members Megan Davis and Peter Beattie, Channel 9 commentator Phil Gould, Rabbitohs chairman Nick Pappas, Roosters chairman Nick Politis, Cowboys GOAT Johnathan Thurston, journalist Roy Masters, and V’landys critic Peter FitzSimons, amongst many others.

The piece explores rugby league’s Civil War with rugby union, the Super League War between Rupert Murdoch and Kerry Packer, Peter V’landys personal war to save the NRL from COVID-19, and the Cold War between the NRL and the AFL.

I also chatted separately to Michael from The Rugby League Digest and Johnno from the Progressive Rugby League podcast about the issue of class in Australian sport, and Peter V’landys leadership of the ARL Commission.

Strange Tides

For The Monthly, I spent five months studying Hillsong founder Brian Houston’s sermons about climate change and coronavirus, and his mysterious relationship with prime minister Scott Morrison.

You can read the essay HERE.

I chatted to Ruby Jones from the 7am Podcast about the experience of a Hillsong congregation. I also chatted to Andrew West at the ABC’s Religion and Ethics report about the political influence of the Pentecostal movement.

Three disasters, a wedding and a funeral

I wrote an essay for The Monthly about going to my sister’s cruise ship-themed wedding, and finding out that my new brother-in-law votes One Nation in the aftermath of the bushfires that nearly claimed his farm. The piece is also about foster care, motherhood, Australia’s black summer and the human spirit’s ability to sustain love amidst enormous trauma.

Blaine_APR20

You can read the article HERE.

Ten-Year Challenge

Given the impending end of the decade, I wrote for Kill Your Darlings about high school coming-of-age rituals, and getting asked by my alma mater to make a speech at their 2019 formal, ten years since graduating. The piece is about success, failure, identity, friendship and my teenage dreams of being the Prime Minister of Australia.

Savannah + Dominic, Toowoomba

You can read here: Ten Year Challenge

How good is Queensland?

In August, I travelled 7000 km from the bubble of Brisbane to the bloodshed of the Mount Isa Rodeo, and back again via Cairns and the Daintree Rainforest. I was trying to find the roots of Scott Morrison’s mute revolution, and why blue-collar voters staged a mutiny against Bill Shorten. But also what it means to be a Queenslander in 2019, and why so many of them are pissed off with the political system.

The Monthly have published the roughly 9000 word essay – titled ‘How good is Queensland?’ – in the November magazine.

img_5331-1

You can read the article here.

It includes hopefully enlightening conversations with Kevin Rudd in Brisbane and Kev Carmody in Warwick, plus a bunch of other Queenslanders, such as a plumber from Ipswich, a cattle farmer in Clermont, a diesel fitter working on a coal mine near Mackay, the Mayor

of Townsville, a Cairns schoolteacher and a Biloela social worker, along with an unexpected cameo appearance by David Malouf on Magnetic Island.

The Right to Remain Silent

I wrote for The Monthly about the Indigenous rugby league players who staged a silent protest during the national anthem before State of Origin 1.

Read the article at The Monthly.