The Little Black is a piece about home, loss and learning by young Irish born writer and prize-winning program maker, John Connell. His documentary On Hunting was broadcast earlier this year in the radio feature program 360. This fictional story shows a similar sensitivity to animal behaviour and speculation about animal intelligence and emotion.
Written and read by John Connell with the voice of Siobhan McHugh and music played by John Connell and Srdjan Nogic. Production by Russell Stapleton and Jane Ulman
Review from The Weekend Australian Geordie Williamson | June 27, 2009
On the Side: UTS Writers’ Anthology 2009 John Connell’s The Little Black is something else altogether: a dark, bucolic fable, flecked with humour and poetry, beautifully attentive to the earthy reality and ritualistic quality of rural life, and littered with passages of which any published author could be proud. After several pages describing in close detail the birth of a heifer and its stillborn twin, the narrator begins wheeling the lifeless form in a wheelbarrow. The next paragraph describes a burial.The ground was thick and hard. The frost had delayed the event. The hole was deep enough and the body was lowered in. I threw in a bluebell, the only flower of this time of year. The calf weighed eight stone, my father twelve. Grass is a great leveller. It is indifferent to class or species; it grows over all — the unwanted Christmas present, and now my father. The shunt, from the death of the Christmas-time calf to that of his father, is magnificently unexpected. And it is the equally unexpected flash of artistic flair that makes the most ordinary exhibition resonate, long after more spectacular shows have faded from the mind.
Geordie Williamson is chief literary critic of The Australian.