'A thousand pairs a day...' - this is the rhythm ruling the lives of workers in a Melbourne shoe factory in the 1930s, a rhythm devouring their youth, their laughter, their hopes for the future.
For those enmeshed in the life of the Modern Shoe Co. - the crippled accountant, the vindictive foreman, the inept management unable to stem the slide to financial disaster, the kind-hearted forewoman and the pathetically young girls in their first job - there is also a rhythm of love and camaraderie, of intrigue and hate, of exploitation and grinding poverty.
A writer with an ear for the rhythms of Australian speech, Melbourne-based Alan Marshall published in the dominant social realist tradition of the 1940s and '50s. The author of short stories, journalism, children's books, novels and advice columns, he is best remembered for the first book of his autobiography, I Can Jump Puddles (1955). His work is marked by a deep interest in rural and working-class life, with an emphasis on shared experience.