Sps's Reviews > Tracks: A Woman's Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback

Tracks by Robyn Davidson
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's review
May 22, 12

bookshelves: 900s, setting, story
Read in May, 2010

Really liked it (four stars), but two things keep me from giving it the full four:
1. camel beatings
2. my own priggishness about the conservation of stars. [I.e. a book probably won't be a five star book until I am certain it has had an enormous effect on me and short-circuited and rewired something, conjured something, become necessary. A four star book is usually a slightly-less-important-but-still-brilliant book by a favorite author. Four stars still means basically flawless. Which means three stars has to encompass everything from 'Sure, I liked it' to 'I liked it so much I couldn't stop talking about it and definitely want to read other books by the author.']

Back to camel beatings: there are a lot of them in this book. That violence is only the most obvious reminder of a larger concern, namely, why make camels do this? What's in it for the camels? I've lost the thread of justifying any human use of any animal just because we're smarter and we can make them do it. They aren't ours, they never were, and for Davidson not to draw some parallels between domesticated (beaten) animals and colonized (beaten) Aboriginal peoples seems pretty stupidly blind. Especially given how thoughtful and canny she is about most other things, including Aboriginal rights.

But Davidson gets across the crazy enormous beauty of the desert, and solitude, and transformation, and learning how to do something really hard. Furthermore, her anecdotes are hella funny.

"I returned to my little dungeon in the wee hours of the morning to find a large, well-moulded lump of excrement snuggling almost lovingly on my pillow. As if it belonged there really. As if it had found its final resting place at last." (35)



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