In “The Hunter” by Julia Leigh, a man goes into the wilderness to hunt the elusive Tasmanian tiger, the thylacine. Doesn’t sound very interesting, doe...moreIn “The Hunter” by Julia Leigh, a man goes into the wilderness to hunt the elusive Tasmanian tiger, the thylacine. Doesn’t sound very interesting, does it? I only picked up this book for two reasons: it was longlisted for the Orange Prize in 2000, and I could use the location for a global reading challenge. I was quite surprised at how very good this book is.
The writing style is impeccable and I was completely mesmerized. Even when Leigh is just describing a plant or detailing the traps the man constructs, she held my attention. Interspersed with the man’s trek for the creature is the story of his interactions with the family with whom he stays when he goes back to civilization for supplies. The family - a mother and her two young children - are struggling to cope after their husband/father went missing a year earlier. The characterizations of these family members are very well done and their grief is tangible and real.
“The Hunter” is a profound allegory about seeking and yearning and an insightful meditation about the essence of humanity. It’s a quick read (less than 200 pages) and I definitely recommend it for those who appreciate thought provoking tales. (less)
When I was in the fifth grade, we did a unit on heroes and heroines in American history and we had to select someone to do a presentation on. The teac...moreWhen I was in the fifth grade, we did a unit on heroes and heroines in American history and we had to select someone to do a presentation on. The teacher gave us a list of names and I looked up several of them in the encyclopaedia. (Yes, encyclopaedia. Remember those? My parents had two sets that filled the bookshelves lining the hallway. They were such an important part of my childhood.)
One of the names I looked up was Amelia Earhart, the pioneering aviatrix who mysteriously vanished while attempting to fly around the world. I knew without a doubt that this was the heroine I wanted to research for my presentation. And from that moment on, I was smitten. Over the years, I’ve read her journals and almost every biography about her. And when the movie “Amelia” starring Hilary Swank was released several years ago, I watched it three times, with barely a break in between viewings.
So I was more than a little excited to read Jane Mendelsohn’s “I Was Amelia Earhart” in which she speculates about what may have happened when Amelia and her navigator, Fred Noonan, vanished. Mendolsohn did not disappoint me with this creative and well-crafted book. The Amelia she depicts is a bit different than how I’ve come to understand her - more moody than stubborn, more despairing than driven - but the author makes it believable. All of Amelia’s notorious spunk is evident, however, when she and Noonan attempt to survive on a deserted island somewhere in the vicinity of New Guinea.
“I Was Amelia Earhart” is an intriguing psychological study about the will to survive and how people react and interact in a crisis. The writing is rich with imagery and emotion yet is also spare and unaffected, a combination that works perfectly. The viewpoint switches constantly between first and third person to create a marked contrast between the inner world of Amelia’s thoughts and the outer world of what Amelia experiences. Though this could be clunky, Mendelsohn handles it adeptly and it adds an important depth to the story.
Imaginative and insightful, “I Was Amelia Earhart” is a very enjoyable read. I recommend this book to those who are looking for something a little different about Amelia Earhart.
"I Was Amelia Earhart" was shortlisted for the Orange Prize in 1997. (less)