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Caroline Overington’s review of Fifty Years Sober and The Lowest Dpths

9 October 2021 46 views No Comment

Here is a piece by Caroline Overington in todays Books section of The Weekend Australian.

Professor Ross Fitzgerald, photographed with his co-writer, Ian McFadyen (left), is one of the dearest people in these pages.
Professor Ross Fitzgerald, photographed with his co-writer, Ian McFadyen (left), is one of the dearest people in these pages.

I would like to take a little time this week to celebrate the work of a man known to his many friends, including those here at the Books pages, as Redfern Ross.

Professor Ross Fitzgerald.

According to a recent media release, he is about to publish his 43rd book. That’s almost as many books as years I’ve been alive.

The novel in question, The Lowest Depths, is the eighth in Fitzgerald’s Grafton Everest adventure series, co-written with his long-time friend Ian McFadyen, creator and producer of Australian TV series The Comedy Company.

You can tell in the writing how much fun they have doing it. Their protagonist is a bit like Sir Les Patterson, except he’s getting sex.

Besides the Grafton novels, Fitzgerald has written Australian history and politics; AFL and philosophy. He’s best known for his memoir, Fifty Years Sober: An Alcoholic’s Journey. He has been a judge of the Prime Minister’s Literary Awards; he funds a scholarship annually to a Melbourne High School Old Boy (of which he’s one); and, at the 2016 federal election, he stood for the Senate as an Australian Sex Party candidate, because they were at the time one of the only parties supporting voluntary euthanasia. Fitzgerald’s mother, Edna Fitzgerald, developed illness towards the end of her life that rendered her blind. She then endured a series of health complications, and eventually had both of her legs being amputated. She badly wanted to slip away quietly but was kept alive by machines.

It saddened Fitzgerald, who to this day remains a staunch advocate for the cause.

Readers will of course know the value Fitzgerald brings to these pages, speaking personally, can I say he is also one of the most fair-minded people on the roster of reviewers. Also one of the kindest: never is a deadline too tight, never is a brief too vague.

And no, he’s not retiring or going anywhere. He’s just a lovely human being whose novel will be published on November 5, which is by chance the anniversary of his marriage in 1976 to his best friend, Lyndal Moor Fitzgerald, who died in January last year. Yes, he has been grieving. Which is why it’s so good to hear that he’s still writing. The Lowest Depths would make an excellent beach read, or else a fine gift, and I recommend it to you.

Caroline Overington, The Weekend Australian, October 9-10, 2021 review, Books p 15.

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