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In this unique and highly entertaining autobiography, Alf Taylor chronicles his life growing up in the infamous New Norcia Mission, north of Perth in the fifties and sixties.
At once darkly humorous and achingly tragic, God, The Devil and Me tells of the life and desperation of the young children forced into the care of the Spanish Nuns and Brothers who ran the Mission. Their lives made up of varying degrees of cruelty and punishments, these children were the ‘little black devils’ that God and religion forgot. Written with an acerbic and brutal wit, Alf intersperses dark childhood memories with a Monty Pythonesque retelling of the Bible, in which Peter is an alcoholic and Judas is a good guy.
As a child, underfed, poorly clothed and missing his family, Alf sought refuge in the library in the company of Shakespeare and Michelangelo. He writes with joy about the camaraderie of the boys, their love of sport and their own company, but also notes that many descended into despair upon leaving. Most died early. Alf Taylor is one of the ‘lucky ones’.
“These stories are connected…leading organically to another…The end result is an impressionistic – if Dickensian – picture of life.”
– Sue Terry, Whispering Gums
“Taylor has created a private universe…by turns incredibly sad and comic…”
– Steven Carroll, The Sydney Morning Herald
“Part gothic horror with a strong undercurrent of dark humour…”
– Kirk Page, Koori Mail
“…a moving, and at times shocking, account…”
– Pierra Willix, The West Australian
– Jennifer Somerville, Good Reading