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Primary Instinct

In his second novel, satirist David Reiter does for the Australian education system what the BBC series Teachers did for the British system.

Like every primary teacher, Cherry Kaufman had her ideals—once. You put in the hours, get the degree and hope your first job isn’t a five hour drive west of Blackbutt. She knew it wouldn’t all be long summer breaks and the adoration of grateful parents. But nothing prepared her for the “challenges” of teaching at Bayside State School, not to mention what her colleagues would get up to after school hours…

A humourous exposé of the education system, with a serious undercurrent.

ISBN 9781921479021 (PB, 288pp);
152mm x 229mm

AUD $30 USD $24 NZD $33 GBP £18 EUR €22
ISBN 9781921479540 (eBook, with index) AUD $17 USD $10 NZD $19 GBP £7.5 EUR €9


This hard to put down book is a good insight into the school community. It is an even sharper, and more subtle, indictment of the system that produced it. A must read.
–Barry Levy, Goodreads

David P. Reiter

David Reiter is an award-winning poet and writer of fiction, His fourth book, Hemingway in Spain, was shortlisted for the 1998 Adelaide Festival Awards. His previous fiction includes Triangles, which was shortlisted for the 2000 Steele Rudd Award, Sharpened Knife, a multimedia murder mystery, and his café society satire Liars and Lovers. His chapter book series for kids eis ntitled Project Earthmend, with The Greenhouse Effect published by Lothian Books (Hachette-Livre) in 2004 and Global Cooling (IP Kidz, 2008). Real Guns, a children’s picture book, was illustrated by Irish artist Patrick Murphy, and a multimedia CD anthology.

David has been writer-in-residence at a number of places, most recently Bundanon (the Arthur Boyd property), and in Auckland, New Zealand at the Michael King Centre during February-March 2008, where this novel was completed.


Read the feature article that appeared in the Queensland Teachers' Newsletter [Is This the Education System We Had to Have?]

eNews 39: Lauren Daniel's interview with David Reiter about Primary Instinct and Global Cooling


There’s something Hip Hop about teaching. If you walk the walk and talk the talk, people let you get on with it. More than that, they regard you with awe, as if you have an aura over your head. Respect. Respect. Talk to the hand, dude!

Some people are born with the walk. They don’t have to try. There’s nothing magical about it; it’s as comfortable as fish ‘n chips.

Others, like Kylie, may be competent teachers, but they don’t have the attitude quite right. There’s no barrier, to ward off the meanies.
Fortunately, she’s got me—and her pill drawer—to rely on. My aura’s big enough for both of us.

When we get to the front door, a couple of parents latch on to Kylie with concerns about their children.

‘Little Johnny came home last night with his shoelaces untied,’ one says.

‘I tied them for him once,’ Kylie says, with a hint of apology.

I glare at her over the parent’s shoulder.

‘But I really think that by Grade Three,’ Kylie adds, ‘that he should know how to tie his own shoes!’

The parent’s jaw drops, but she’s disarmed. My coaching’s bearing fruit.
Now when I enter the classroom, parents scatter like minions before the Lord High Executioner. It’s always, please, Cherry. Little Carla can’t do her subtractions, and I know that’s not your fault, but what can I do? Or my Thomas came home with a bruise on his left cheek, and I don’t mean the one by his nose. I’m sure it didn’t happen on your watch, but who might have been on playground duty at the time?

They have to give you the benefit of the doubt because your attitude demands it. If you’re the least bit indecisive, as Kylie gets sometimes, that’s when the mine starts to cave in on you.

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