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The best aphorisms are usually said with no intention of being quoted

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Jessica Robinson reviews a new collection of all-Australian quotes from Black Inc, 'The Wisdom of Oz: Australian aphorisms from the profound to the profane'.

AN APHORISM may be defined as a saying or observation that rings true to others — and the best aphorisms are usually said with no intention of being quoted.

I imagine that many people who are cited in this thought-provoking collection, The Wisdom of Oz: Australian aphorisms from the profound to the profane (compiled by Black Inc) would look at their statement and think, That’s what they chose to quote me on?

However, this is what makes this book so good: the fact that the chosen quotes, generally, weren’t said to gain attention or votes, or record sales, they were just said while in the moment. They are snapshots of honesty.

This little book is a gold mine of Australian quotes – some self-deprecating and all honest – which makes it a delight to read. Even though it is small, both in size and in pages, it often takes a few readings to fully understand and enjoy some of the quotes.

From the cover we are promised honesty, with the tagline, ‘A little book about truth in a world defined by insidious lies’ — and this book is refreshingly candid.

The citations in this book come from Australian authors, singers, poets and yes, politicians — even a bushranger was thrown in for good measure. Collectively, these comments encompass what it truly means to be Australian.

Quotes such as "That’s what being in the working class is all about — how to get out of it", by former Premier of NSW Neville Wran, as well as this from former Senator Don Chipp"We’ll keep the bastards honest!" (which later became his Party's slogan) show the rough and tumble nature of Australians but also our perseverance.

There are also quotes that may not be "Australian", per se, but are thought-provoking, funny, sincere and still very relevant in today’s society.

For example, this comment from Australian writer Miles Franklin:

"It’s a sign of your own worth sometimes if you are hated by the right people."

This is Franklin being candid and what she says is also true: many Australians who make a significant impact on the country are often as hated as they are loved.

Reading through this book may also enlist surprise or shock at some of the people chosen to be quoted — a less than popular politician or a controversial author. The compiled quotes, however, share a common theme: honesty.

All in all, this is a wonderful little book, which would earn its home on any Australian bookshelf.

The Wisdom of Oz: Australian Aphorisms from the Profound to the Profane, by Black Inc, 2017, $14.99.

You can follow Jessica Robinson on Twitter @Jessica_peta.

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