Carrie Tiffany has won numerous prizes in Australia, including the Victorian Premier's Award for an Unpublished Manuscript and the Australian Book Review Short Fiction Award. In her early twenties she worked as a park ranger in the red center and now lives in Melbourne, where she works as an agricultural journalist. The Sydney Morning Herald named Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living debut of the year.
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Remote Reader by Carrie Tiffany
I learnt to read in the desert. I was twenty years old and working as
a park ranger in central Australia. I lived in a silver caravan stumped
up with old house bricks. During the day I emptied the rubbish bins, or
went on patrol, or took tourists on guided walks, or shot feral cats. At
night I read books.
Books were scarce in the desert. The national park I worked on was serviced by a tourist resort that sold fly spray and wafer thin boomerangs made in China. It did not sell books. The nearest books were in a library 400-kilometres away. I rang the library and joined up as a remote reader. Books would be sent out to me every month on one of the tourist buses. I couldn't access the catalogue so a librarian would choose the books on my behalf. My librarian was called Merv. I wrote him a note with a summary of my tastes. But I was twenty - it was the summary of a taste for something I had never eaten.
The books arrived one afternoon on a Greyhound bus with a dozen Swedes, some Germans and Japanese. I was still in my ranger uniform and it went badly. The tourists thought I had come to meet them, not to collect a box of books, so I had ...
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