Living on a farm is a hard life. It’s also a fulfilling one. John Connell’s biographical The Cow Book brings us on his journey from Canada to Australia and back to his family farm in Ireland where he’s taking a six-month sabbatical to write his next novel. As we read, we meet John’s family – his Ma who runs a Montessori school and his Da (Tom) with whom John has a fraught relationship fuelled by unsaid things from years gone by. We also get to meet his neighbours, like Father Séan, the local parish priest who shares a passion for literature. The Cow Book is a mixture of biographical and expository writing. Interspersed with these personal stories we come to understand the different stages of livestock rearing. Like the act of conception which is divided between natural penetration by a bull or by the use of artificial insemination. We experience the emotions of delivering a calf or a lamb, dealing with sick animals and watching them die. John does not romanticise farm life; he shows us the ups and downs of being a livestock farmer. And in that, we can all see some of ourselves in his life story.
Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building
John Connell, a Sydney-based writer and Walkley Award-winning journalist, undertook a Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Journalism) at UTS in 2007 and 2008.