Call me a cultural cretin, but this book didn't work it for me. The premis was promising: a book about sexual tensions between neighbours set in rural...moreCall me a cultural cretin, but this book didn't work it for me. The premis was promising: a book about sexual tensions between neighbours set in rural Australia, built upon the metaphors of birds and diary farming. But the book was bizarre; the plot is confusing, the writing inconherent. The sexual content of the book was crude and disgusting. A lot of the times I find myself pausing and asking "what was the point of THAT?". I finished the book because I am a "finisher", however I didn't enjoy this book a single bit. (less)
This book is a gem. It is raw, confronting, yet at the same time riveting and incredibly moving. At the heart of the story you have three brothers, wh...moreThis book is a gem. It is raw, confronting, yet at the same time riveting and incredibly moving. At the heart of the story you have three brothers, who love in the rugged southern coast of Tasmania. They are subjected to the moods of their father, an abalone fisherman, who is a bitter and abusive man, especially to Harry, the youngest of the three. Joe, the eldest, emancipated himself after a violent encounter with their father, whereas Miles is trapped between his filial duties to help with the fishing and his brotherly responsibilities to Harry.
I can't say much as it would spoil the story. The first few pages I was struck with how clinical the writing was. Her description of the fisherman's life and the coast was matter-of-fact, removed of sentimentality, but then it dawned me: Poverty is poverty, no matter how you dress it up. The fishermen face natural challenges and economic hardship in a way that is unimaginable to so yhe best way was to deliver the facts and let the readers form their own ideas of that reality. The book does not shy from presenting the harsh reality: the fact that kids are effectively cheap labour, how the fishermen are cheated by their own trade and how undevalued the risks they face day to day on the ocean.
The story really focused on the growing relationship betweem Miles and Harry and much effort has been dedicated to make readers empathise with these two boys. It does so carefully and slowly. The sparse prose blooms as we learn more about each character. There were tender moments that hooked me to the characters--moments of innocence, moments of simple happiness. Miles out on his surfboard, Joe in the workshop building his boat and Harry taking a glimpse of the Northern Lights to name a few. On the other hand, the book gives little thought to everyone else; the father is almost caricaturised as simply this violent, bitter man who hates one son and prefers the other. I understand that may have been a deliberate choice made by the author, but to me it was a missed opportunity to introduce more complexity and depth to the story.
The book is just like the natural environmemt that the story is set in. Like treacherous waves, just when you think the story has settled, a big swell rises and crashes hard on you, shaking your emotions. There were twists in the plot that I didn't see coming. The final one really shook me and the ending just left me in tears. In the end, I was grateful for the fact that the writing was clean and crisp as it was and not flowery and overwritten. It made the book feel so raw and real -- truthful is how one critic described it. Highly recommended. (less)
This book was a disappointment for me. I feel like a philistine for not understanding the point of this book. Sure, the lyrical prose was beautiful, b...moreThis book was a disappointment for me. I feel like a philistine for not understanding the point of this book. Sure, the lyrical prose was beautiful, but too often they came across as self-indulgent rambling. I get it; the author wants to recreate emotions around the subject of travel, migration and human movement at its very core, taking all that as a metaphor to life. But does it really need to span out to 400 plus pages?
The book follows the lives of two characters, who could not be more different to each other: Laura Fraser, born to a wealthy Australian family, is the archtypical rich poor girl, who suffers from failed parenting and sets out to traverse the globe when her aunt left her an inheritance of considerable sum. Ravi is a self taught IT whiz, who has set out to explore new virtual territories opened to him by the World Wide Web, when tragic circumstances forced him to leave his home country for Australia.
The two different plots are not only disconnected from each other (was there supposed to be a comparison? Did anything parallel happen?) but they were individually detached strands of stories. Maybe that was supposed to represent life itself: even though we move in the linearity of time, but our life's stories, other than held together by the fragile string that is time (represented by iur age), are basically detached from each other. I appreciate that this sort of contemplation may have been thr author's intention, but could it not have been told in a more concise, gripping, more thought provoking or emotionally appealing way?
I did love some of passages and scenes. The story spanned different decades, and the author has the cunning ability to represent the context and feel of that particular time and space (Europe in the 1990s, for instance). The feeling of isolation, detachment, the longing that accompanies a solo traveller came across really well, and equally so did the feeling of migrant struggling to reinvent himself in a place perceived to be a hostile place. But most of the time I was skipping pages, rolling my eyes. I even had to take a break from readingt this book as the plot started to drag towards the end. What kept me going was the hope that Laura's and Ravi's paths would cross, which they did in the end but in a complete anticlimax. Come to think of it, I think I was hanging on so I could make sense of this book.
Unfortunately, as much as I wanted to like this book, even after contemplating long and hard about it, I just couldn't. (less)