Mark Mordue at The Sydney Review of Books:
‘One of the many things I regret about writing And the Ass Saw the Angel (1989) was that I didn’t set it in Australia. It could just as easily be set in Wangaratta rather than an imaginary part of the American South. I don’t know why I didn’t do that. I wish I had. For sure that book comes from growing up in the country, from living a life in country Australia. It’s not from listening to murder ballads. The river was the sacred place of my childhood and everything happened down there.
‘On the edge of the river there’s willow trees, just like it says in “Sad Waters”. The plaiting of the willow vines – that happened. So a song like “Sad Waters” is a remembrance of that childhood scenario. The tree roots all torn out of the ground.