“A night of flaming red”
This text gathers some of Ross’s preferred tropes of journalistic writing: dressing up information as internal monologue, using his family to keep the proceedings empathetic, and occasional expressionistic flourishes.
This last part of a series of articles on an inland trip in Southern Australia finds the Ross family spending a night in their car in the desert, looking for Lake Eyre the next morning and turning back when a sandstorm approaches. Apropos of the arid Australian outback, the author retells an Aborigine legend about the land’s former fertility and opines how the poorly planned farming by settlers has left the land even more barren. This, as well as later essayistic digressions by Ross, the author, is loosely integrated into the travel report as an internal monologue of Ross, the traveler [p. 1503]. Throughout, the children’s quarrels are used to enliven the report and keep it relatable to audiences in Germany (similarly, the trip is labeled a jaunt, rather than an expedition, [p. 1503]), while the family’s presence heightens the tension once they are fleeing from a sandstorm. When the storm hits the car, “everything went so fast that every description fails” [p. 1506]. As often with Ross, what follows is still description, but in a more dramatic vein, harking back to his early, expressionist reporting on industrial sites: “Then, at a single snap, it was night. But a night of flaming red.” [p. 1506]
Colin Ross. Vorstoß in das “Tote Herz Australiens”. [Schluss des vorigen Teils]; VIII. Die letzte Etappe zum Lake Eyre; IX. Der Sandsturm faßt uns. Berliner Illustrirte Zeitung: 1929 Aug 25; 38 (34); 1502–3, 1505–7.