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gnat (29)

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Journal of gnat (29)

Sunday March 21, 2004
04:42 AM

They're a Weird Mob

[ #17990 ]
Last night and this morning I reread a classic from my youth, They're a Weird Mob by John O'Grady (writing as Nino Culotta). It's ostensibly an Italian immigrant's story, humorous, about his arrival in Australia, making Australian friends, and learning to appreciate the Australian Way of Life. Riotously funny, and absolutely the best written form of spoken Australian I've ever seen.

It set me thinking about immigration, assimilation, and so on, because of course John O'Grady is definitely not the name of an Italian immigrant. The book is fiction, and has a very pro-assimilation agenda. At various times in the book, characters (who are never the friends of the immigrant) say derogatory things about the "dagos" and "wops". Those things go unchallenged for the most part, and I couldn't figure out whether they were unchallenged because O'Grady wanted to point out the racism and say "that's wrong" in a subtle way, or whether O'Grady simply didn't notice it himself.

So I Googled.

I didn't get an answer to my question. I did find, however, a list of his papers held for scholars by the Australian Government, an interesting paper on Italo-Australian culture which mentions O'Grady as the poster-boy for assimilation and which gave me some interesting background for the next time I read the book, a page on Ford Cortinas in the movies, and even etymology of the word nong which cites O'Grady for the first printed usage of the longer form "ning-nong".

And I got hooked up with a supplier of some of the O"Grady books I'm missing. I love Google.


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  • Tony Horwitz and One for the Road [] as he's a witty, entertaining writer.
  • John O'Grady is definitely not the name of an Italian immigrant. The book is fiction, and has a very pro-assimilation agenda.

    Went to school [] with his nephew (you guessed it - John O'Grady). It was written as a joke. As you may guess O'Grady was Irish by descent. I happen to have the book in my bookshelf somewhere. I reckon the best lines in the book was a recipe to cook a steak using sump oil.

    I think the books credited author was by Nino Cullota. For those skippy fans [] the film [], "They are a weird mob" also

    bootload [], groking softwa