All That Is Gone

To commence with an understatement, Pramoedya Ananta Toer never had much luck with the administrations in his native Indonesia. Born in Java in 1925, to parents dedicated to the nationalist cause, he suffered detention and imprisonment as a political prisoner under first the Dutch, then the regime of President Sukarno and finally, for a period of more than fourteen years, under that of President Suharto.

Interestingly, while Mr Toer is probably better known outside Indonesia for his longer literary works, within the country it is his skill as a writer of short stories for which he is most lauded. Short stories, novellas and poetry are as highly valued if not more so in Indonesia as novels, a reality not surprising considering the orality of the culture.

The collection All That Is Gone brings together eight of the author’s early short works. The orality aforementioned is evident throughout. The titular story demonstrates this in the way it plays repeatedly on the refrain ‘all that is gone’ or ‘but that is gone’ or ‘things that have gone’ in much the same way that a spoken word poet might reprise lines or singers of popular songs will revert to a chorus. It is a tale that could easily be read aloud.

The tonal flourishes are few, the description simple, in all pieces though that takes nothing away from these slices of life, set as they are against an often brutal backdrop in a country unclear where it wants to go and devastatingly unsure of its place in the Asian region let alone the wider world.

Sri, the game and incredibly resilient heroine of Acceptance, the longest of the eight stories, remarks at one point: “If I’ve learned one thing from all that we’ve gone through, it’s that you can overcome anything if you can learn to forget about yourself. Pretend you’re not even there, and all the suffering vanishes.” The same spirit – even leavened with occasional irony – infuses All That Is Gone and, needless to say, the author’s striking life. He died in 2006.


About owenlindsayboyd

I am a follower of the teachings of Paramahansa Yogananda - author of Autobiography of a Yogi. I begin and end each day with meditation, a spiritual base from which all else proceeds. I am a personal carer, writer and traveller, among other things, originally from just outside Melbourne in Australia. I lived in my hometown until 1984, obtaining a degree in Arts, with majors in sociology and communication studies, in 1980. I have spent a considerable amount of time since the late eighties living and working in a wide range of communities in many different parts of the world. I have lived and worked with homeless people, disabled people and refugees. As a writer, I am principally a novelist though I also write shorter pieces, both fiction and non-fiction and have published and self-published poetry, articles, short stories, memoirs and novels. In addition, I write screenplays and have made a number of low-budget film productions. In recent years I self-published a trilogy of novels dealing, principally, with the themes of healing and reconciliation. 'The Unintentional Healing of Soul' (Changeling / Trafford 2003) was followed by 'Proper Respect for a Wound' (Changeling / Trafford 2005) and 'Thanks Be to the World' (Changeling / Trafford 2009). 'Proper Respect for a Wound' was also published in e-book format by Jaffa Books, Brisbane, Australia in 2013. I self-published a two-book travel memoir, 'The Second of Three' and 'From a Caregiver's Point of View' early in 2014. It is distributed on smashwords. Later in 2014 I plan to publish a book of stories.
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