Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly's Reviews > Fly Away Peter

Fly Away Peter by David Malouf
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May 05, 2011

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Read in May, 2011

This follows the same formula as his "Remembering Babylon." First, the story. Here, a simple country lad who's into bird watching. David Malouf throws in a possible love interest, most likely pretty, who does photography. Also a rich, young man who becomes his friend. Both guys goes to war (World War 1). The contrast, from the peaceful idyll of their natural world in Australia to the numbing horrors of trench warfare. From colorful birds to rotting corpses. Some characters die, untimely, needlessly. Finally, towards the end, a couple of paragraphs where the point of everything that has happened is distilled, becomes crystal clear, powerfully written like you'd want to copy or memorize them. Like this one, where the girl-photographer, remembering Jim Saddler (the bird watcher) in that certain pose of his when he was closely examining a picture of a bird she showed him the first time they met--

"It was that intense focus of his being, it's ME, Jim Saddler, that struck her with grief, but was also the thing--and not simply as an image either--that endured. That in itself. Not as she might have preserved it in a shot she had never in fact taken, nor even as she had held it, for so long, as an untaken image in her head, but in itself, as it for its moment was. That is what life meant, a unique presence, and it was essential in every creature. To set anything above it, birth, position, talent even, was to deny to all but a few among the infinite millions what was also, in the end, most moving. A life wasn't FOR anything. It simply was."

The meaning of life in a short, bittersweet paragraph! This is what makes literature great. With a captive, addicted, gullible readers it can solve life's great mysteries by lying beautifully.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Louize (last edited May 05, 2011 08:51AM) (new)

Louize But I think this one is beautiful:

"That is what life meant, a unique presence, and it was essential in every creature."

message 2: by Riley (new)

Riley Faulds She's certainly not a love interest, he's just interested in her as a person. She's much older than him and he isn't attracted to her in any way...I don't think you can really say this follows the same 'formula' as Remembering Babylon...

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