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This short novel blew my mind Disturbing Funny Horrific Hypnotic Cinematic Addictive Reads like a David Lynch film written by the love child of Cormac McCarthy, J D Salinger and Patrick Hamilton Oh my god, I can t even tell you This is an affecting story of a man who loses virtually everything Gambling, haphazard decisions, alcohol and brutish companions take the narrator on a hazy and derelict journey during which he must face his own predatory and primitive nature Despair and loss of self control force the hapless narrator to accept the outcome of his own bad choices Fast paced and relentless, this novel is is an unadorned blow to the senses. In the remote towns of the west there are few of the amenities of civilization there is no sewerage, there are no hospitals, rarely a doctor the food is dreary and flavourless from long carrying, the water is bad electricity is for the few who can afford their own plant, roads are mostly non existent there are no theatres, no picture shows and few dance halls and the people are saved from stark insanity by the one strong principle of progress that is ingrained for a thousand miles east, noIn the remote towns of the west there are few of the amenities of civilization there is no sewerage, there are no hospitals, rarely a doctor the food is dreary and flavourless from long carrying, the water is bad electricity is for the few who can afford their own plant, roads are mostly non existent there are no theatres, no picture shows and few dance halls and the people are saved from stark insanity by the one strong principle of progress that is ingrained for a thousand miles east, north, south and west of the Dead Heart the beer is always cold A young man from Sydney, John Grant, is teaching in a one room school in a tiny outback town, working off a two year bond to the Education Department Heading back to the coast for his six week summer break, he s obliged to stay overnight in outback town Bundanyabba Carried away by the local lifestyle, Grant gets drunk and blows all his money including his plane fare home, then plunges headlong toward his own destruction in many other ways, alcoholic, sexual and spiritual through a five day nightmare.You know, from the opening paragraphs, that this book is going to stay with you as only the most powerful books do Cook captures the essence of the vast emptiness of the desert, the punishing effect of constant heat from sun up to sun down and the isolation of man in a place he doesn t belong, and wraps it up in a tight little novel that suffocates the reader I felt almost claustrophobic whilst reading, the pressure and closeness of the heat described transferring itself to me on my nice air conditioned busWhen you travel by road in the west you travel with a cohort of dust which streams up from your tyres and rolls away in a disintegrating funnel, defining the currents of air your vehicle sets in motion And the heat is unthinkable, no matter how widely the windows are open, and the sweat streams off your body and into your socks, and if there are a number of people in the car their body stenches mingle disagreeably From those opening paragraphs onwards I was hooked, expecting tales of manly men abusing the soft city fella, mindwarping walks through 50c heat, bar fights, rape, the usual outback fare populated by morons, inbreeds and men made of granite Instead Cook tortures his protagonist with love Almost everyone John comes in to contact with is exceedingly nice, the proverbial salt of the earth type of bloke, they love their town, they take pride in their friendliness and they won t see a fella go without even if he s flat broke I used the word nightmare in the synopsis, I imagine right about now the less cynical of you might be wondering just what about this scenario could be described as a nightmare But the rest of us know better, we re city folk, we don t know our neighbours and we don t want to either, when a stranger tries to chat to us we keep walking or we nod and turn away and want to be left to our books, wishing the battery life of an iDevice was three times longer To us the thought of having to drink when your host says drink and go midnight hunting when your host says you re going midnight hunting fills us with dread And it is that outsiders reaction to outback hospitality which propels John in to and through this nightmare.That s all surface detail however, what Cook has actually written is an analysis of the downfall of man, our descent in to barbarism from genteel heights, how easily we might find ourselves stripped of our comfort and how ill prepared we are to react to that situation.To paraphrase some of the seemingly endless hyperbole that is thrown about on the subject of this book, Cook creates a brutal, stark and hallucinatory purgatory, capturing the outback without the sentimental shit designed to sell plane tickets to Brits and Yanks and Salarymen Ten years after publication it spawned a movie adaptation that somehow got lost in all form until somebody found a print in a bin in some American town somewhere in 2004 Since restored and re released Wake in Fright, known as The Outback to most of the world, is considered a true Australian classic Gripping page turner about a rather annoying schoolteacher broke and burning up in an outback town The construction of this nightmare is sudden and brutal, as is the decline of our protagonist The storytelling is hypnotic,frightening for what it holds back than lets on Happy to recommend this dark gritty Aussie classic. ( READ E-PUB ) ⚖ Aangeschoten ⚖ Het is zomervakantie in Australi Een jonge leraar gaat op weg naar Sydney, maar strandt in het plaatsje Bundan yabba midden in de dorre woestijn van de outback Hij vergokt er zijn geld tot op de laatste penny en drinkt misselijkmakende hoeveelheden bier En er gebeurt nog veel meer dat het daglicht niet kan verdragen Na vijf dagen blijft de hoofdpersoon geradbraakt achter Het enige dat hij nog heeft, is het pistool dat hij in zijn hand houdt Wake In FrightI had imagined Kafka wakes up one morning and finds himself transported to the Australian outback in this novel by Kenneth Cook How would Kafka handle the change from his gloomy overcast world to the heat and blazing sunlight of this outback isolation Hell Sweat, dust and beer there s nothing else out here mate It is not Hell at all to the characters who inhabit this place, it is heaven The space, the light, the freedom to be yourself No one judges anyone One of the main k Wake In FrightI had imagined Kafka wakes up one morning and finds himself transported to the Australian outback in this novel by Kenneth Cook How would Kafka handle the change from his gloomy overcast world to the heat and blazing sunlight of this outback isolation Hell Sweat, dust and beer there s nothing else out here mate It is not Hell at all to the characters who inhabit this place, it is heaven The space, the light, the freedom to be yourself No one judges anyone One of the main key elements of this story is the wonderful contrast of the wild, rough, exuberant, hard drinking characters who live in this environment, and who to a man, not forgetting a young woman, express an unconscious boundless generosity which is natural in the outback This beautiful contrast is the most powerful element in the book for me These seemingly contrary traits bewilder the reserved young Englishman who finds himself in desperate straits out there in this strange hell of a landscape John Grant is bonded for several years to be the school teacher in Tiboonda, which consists of a hotel where he boards, a one room schoolhouse where he is the teacher, and a railway siding with no shade for a station platform John Grant s nightmare begins when he tries to get back to Sydney for the six weeks Christmas school holidays No spoilers here I hope this has prompted you to want to read this book, a novella, at 143 pages And to see the film, if for the landscape alone.The book was pretty faithfully adapted to the film version in the early seventies and bombed at the box office at that time, when Australia was trying to reflect asophisticated National image in a time of great social change I remember seeing it at the cinema and loved it I didn t read the book until many years later.There is an interesting story to the film, which is now considered a classic, I think a masterpiece After its initial release, the film disappeared and was forgotten For years a hunt was on to track down a print of the film From memory I think the cans of the film were stored in England for some years, then sent to the U.S where they languished in storage until a single print of the film was discovered, not in good condition, and was marked to be disposed of The print was brought back to the Australian National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra There has been a magnificent restoration job I couldn t believe the sharpness and clarity of the restored film It would have been an unthinkable loss to Australian film history and our cultural heritage if this film had been lost 4.5 sYoung, naive, clueless teacher John Grant travels from his remote school at Tiboonda to Bundanyabba thinly disguised Broken Hill for an overnight stay before he catches the plane to Sydney for the Christmas holidays Arriving late at night, he searches for a meal and a cold drink in the stifling December heat In the pub he gets dragged into the blokey male culture of the Yabba, which consists of drinking very large quantities of beer From there, the intoxicated Grant is taken to a two u 4.5 sYoung, naive, clueless teacher John Grant travels from his remote school at Tiboonda to Bundanyabba thinly disguised Broken Hill for an overnight stay before he catches the plane to Sydney for the Christmas holidays Arriving late at night, he searches for a meal and a cold drink in the stifling December heat In the pub he gets dragged into the blokey male culture of the Yabba, which consists of drinking very large quantities of beer From there, the intoxicated Grant is taken to a two up school, where he gets hooked on the psychological rush of gambling, and loses his entire savings He is left with a few shillings in his pocket, nowhere to sleep and no way to pay the airfare to Sydney He thinks he can get some sort of job in the Yabba to tide him over Instead he gets drawn further down into the underbelly of outback existence, where men have little or no education, little or no expectation about life, little or no beauty and joy It is relentlessly hot, dirty and mean It is also brutal, something he witnesses first hand on a shooting expedition Alcohol and cigarettes, both in large quantities, are the pain killers on hand, and he indulges to excess, along with his new found Yabba mates It does not help that Grant is such an innocent abroad He doesn t have an ounce of common sense, or backbone, so he just drifts along, drawn into the mire due to embarrassment about his lack of cash So entrenched in this subculture has he become, Grant takes no initiative, such as going to employers to ask for work, or seeking assistance from the Salvos or church institutions Some of that is due to the shame he feels about how far he has fallen, and the best way to deal with such feelings is to have another beer, or two, or threeWhen he wakes up to himself and tries to leave the Yabba The driver stood by while Grant pulled his suitcases out of the back of the truck, then Come and have a drink,as a statement than an invitation No thanks, said Grant, I m off it Off it You mean you don t drink I m just not drinking for the moment I can see that what I said was, let s go and have one Thanks, mate, said Grant patiently, but I ve given up drinking for a while Well, I ll be b, said the driver you mean you won t have a drink with a man after he s given you a ride for fifty bloody miles Grant shrugged in some embarrassment and murmured Sorry, mate, but I m just not drinking Well you can bloody well go and get , in tones of complete contempt, and he turned and was lost behind the batwing doors of a hotel.Peculiar trait of the outback NSW people, thought Grant, that you could sleep with their wives, despoil their daughters, sponge on them, defraud them, do almost anything that would mean at least ostracism in normal society, and they would barely seem to notice it But refuse to drink with them and you immediately became a mortal enemypp 165 166Originally published in 1961, this novel is a searing expose of blokey, working class male culture in the NSW outback of the 1950s Drinking alcohol is not only expected, but is elevated to a form of ritual, almost a religion The few women portrayed in the novel are typical of what one might expect in this male dominated society, i.e undervalued, undereducated, unheard This book is an Australian classic, one that should be read wider It may seem out of date, but I suspect the themes explored by Kenneth Cook over 50 years ago are still relevant today.The other thing I really liked about this book is its focus It is a short book, a novella by today s standards It has an intensity which evokes a strong emotional response in the reader I think this is due to its concentration on a single plot line, narrated with exquisite skill by a master of the craft There are only a few major episodes in this short book, such as the two up school and the bloody, spotlighting trip, and these are narrated with great power and spirit This story is all about John Grant, an innocent abroad, struggling to survive in a grim, gritty world where he does not belong Update Tuna is listed separately now As people have read this entry and voted for it, I wasn t sure whether I should delete it This is a review of Tuna, by Kenneth Cook Goodreads does not list this strong book by a notable writer Having read Wake in Fright a while back, I noticed a copy of this on the shelves and it s definitely a small handbag book, so in it went.I read this immediately after a discussion on FB with my friend Linda which involved questions of what is Aust Update Tuna is listed separately now As people have read this entry and voted for it, I wasn t sure whether I should delete it This is a review of Tuna, by Kenneth Cook Goodreads does not list this strong book by a notable writer Having read Wake in Fright a while back, I noticed a copy of this on the shelves and it s definitely a small handbag book, so in it went.I read this immediately after a discussion on FB with my friend Linda which involved questions of what is Australian and what is racist And here I was on page one of this, plumb in the middle of exactly that The central character is a fisherman in a coastal town, a little Aussie battler, I think would be a fair characterisation, and dagoes are giving him grief He and his mates despise the Italians But that doesn t change how one acts when one has to When an Italian on another boat goes overboard, he does everything he can to save him Racism iscomplex than a lot of people make out perhaps they are still waters that run deep Jack s off sider in this is an Aborigine who sees himself as less than white people but definitely superior to the Italians, by the way.The Italian s death opens up an opportunity for Jack to go for broke, buy a boat he can fish for tuna from, instead of the piddling small catches which are his lot to date I can see why this is compared with The Old Man and the Sea It feels like a sea adventure book written by somebody who knows his ground so to speak I couldn t put it down.rest here 3.5, rounded down.A decidedly odd little book, it reads quickly and is involving but it didn t totally add up for me That, combined with some gruesome scenes of animal slaughter essential, but NOT pleasant reading, leads me to give it a middling rating Am eager to now see the cult film made from it, which was my impetus for my reading it in the first place, however. This is a classic tale of the civilised man from the coast going mad in the barbarous interior John Grant is a country town school teacher on his way back to Sydney for the summer However, because of problems with his flight, he gets stuck for one night in the Yabba, a town based on Broken Hill in the West of NSW Author Kenneth Cook spent time in Broken Hill himself and he recreates the atmosphere in brilliantly cynical fashion Wake in Fright was his first novel and it s certainly the most w This is a classic tale of the civilised man from the coast going mad in the barbarous interior John Grant is a country town school teacher on his way back to Sydney for the summer However, because of problems with his flight, he gets stuck for one night in the Yabba, a town based on Broken Hill in the West of NSW Author Kenneth Cook spent time in Broken Hill himself and he recreates the atmosphere in brilliantly cynical fashion Wake in Fright was his first novel and it s certainly the most well known.As young school teachers everywhere, except perhaps Norway, Grant is pretty broke He is befriended by the local policeman, Jock Crawford, in a pub and introduced to two up a coin tossing game that men bet on The copper is only too happy to shout Grant beers as he gets them for free while on duty The peer pressure to drink beer is immense throughout the book, and the amber liquid, that initially gives relief from mental anguish, inevitably leads to greater horrors There is a girl Grant loves in Sydney but he isn t confident of his chances with her given his financial situation Two up is an oh so simple game and the intoxicated Grant after some initial success throws his pay cheque that needed to last him the entire summer away gambling on it He now has no way of leaving the Yabba no money for food or shelter However, there will always be somebody happy to buy him a beer and tell him what a great place the Yabba is it s a sinister form of hospitality and friendliness that he really would be better off without John Grant can t see the beauty of this place on the edge of the outback, for him it s the South Canaan of the Philistines and Sodom and Gomorrah all rolled into one.What follows is a bizarre and grueling, but I don t doubt true to life, account of alcoholism, illicit sex, philistinism and animal cruelty There is a great movie version of this book, but the kangaroo hunt is my least favourite sequence in it In the book the hunt is very well written and heart rendering the hacked up kangaroos give no clear sign of their pain through crying or facial expressions, and that makes the cruelty of the shotgun and knife wielding hunters for kicks all theunbearable Often I find that human on animal cruelty ishorrifying than human on human cruelty in literature Don t be put off, there are funny parts in this book too it s certainly an original work and an interesting comment on Australian society It s one of the best Australian novels I ve read, and I don t know of any work close to this tragic semi satire written by a New Zealand author Five stars here and one of those cases where you are happy that a cult movie led you to a really interesting book In the novel there are possibly evenbeers imbibed than in the movie and that s saying something Have a look for yourself, someone has made a highly entertaining montage featuring every drink of booze in the movie