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Wake in Fright

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  1,385 ratings  ·  190 reviews
Filmed as The Outback

The Film Ink series presents the novels that inspired the work of some of the most celebrated directors of our time. While each novel is first and foremost a classic in its own right, these books offer the dedicated cinephile a richer understanding of the most illustrious films of American and European cinema. Wake In Fright was first published in 1961
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Paperback, 174 pages
Published August 1st 2002 by Prion (first published 1961)
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Brenda
John Grant’s quiet pleasure at the thought of six weeks away from the dust, the heat and the flies; of being away from the tiny community where he taught a few students; of being in Sydney at the beautiful beaches, relaxing and getting the dust out of his system was euphoric. As he locked the school doors he was smiling – the journey on the train to Bundanyabba where he was only staying the night before flying to Sydney was imminent. He was on his way…

“Yabba”, as the locals called it, was bigger
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Doug H
Apr 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
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!
Toby
Mar 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“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, no ...more
Melanie
Apr 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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, more frightening for what it holds back than lets on.

Happy to recommend this dark gritty Aussie classic.
George K.
Jun 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20th-century
Μόλις έμαθα ότι θα κυκλοφορούσε στα ελληνικά το βιβλίο αυτό από τις εκδόσεις Εξάρχεια, έπαθα την πλάκα μου. Μιλάμε για μεγάλη έκπληξη, αν λάβει κανείς υπόψιν ότι πρόκειται για ένα καλτ βιβλίο που γράφτηκε σχεδόν πενήντα πέντε χρόνια πριν και το οποίο ποτέ δεν έγινε best seller (απ'όσο ξέρω). Σ'αυτό το βιβλίο βασίζεται η ταινία Wake In Fright (aka The Outback), σε σκηνοθεσία Ted Kotcheff, ένα άγνωστο διαμάντι της Αυστραλίας. Λοιπόν, το βιβλίο με ξετρέλανε πραγματικά. Περίμενα να μου αρέσει, μιας ...more
Greg
Wake In Fright

I 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
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MaryG2E
4.5★s
Young, 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
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B the BookAddict
Jun 29, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
totally hypnotic. I was equally fascinated and repulsed but this book demanded to be read to the very end.
Nigeyb
Oct 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Noir lovers, the Australian Tourist Board, drinkers, teachers
Shelves: favorites
Doug H's review alerted me to this book. It's taken me a while to get to it however it was well worth the wait.

A mere 174 pages it packs a mighty punch. Written in 1961, it powerfully relates John Grant's descent into hell, here also known as outback town Bundanyabba ("the Yabba"). The people of the Yabba feel compelled to subsume any outsiders into their world. The ghastly hospitality of the local yokels provide the guileless fish-out-of-water John Grant with the worst days of his short life a
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Brendan
Feb 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
got sent this one cos the publishers want me to do some puff about it that may end up on the re-release cover which i was hell stoked about as people will think im totes literary for being quoted on a book. so i gotta think of something pithy to say. feel free to throw me some suggestions. i need big, unfamiliar words. right now i got this:
a real menacing bastard of a book. lean and terrifying. im never going for a holiday to broken hill or wherever it was meant to be. kenneth cole has construc
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James
Dec 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Heat, dust, thirst, hunger, desperation, descent, and despair. Wake in Fright evokes all these phenomena in uncomfortable detail, down to the eviscerated kangaroo.

Kenneth Cook here subjects Tiboonda schoolteacher John Grant to a personal hell (and Tiboonda in the Outback is already "a variation of hell") where—in largely straightforward prose reminiscent of Hemingway—Grant must contend with the harsh, unforgiving Australian landscape as he makes his increasingly miserable way towards Sydney, so
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ΠανωςΚ
Aug 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ξυπνάς ξημερώματα από εφιάλτη. Κάπου μεταξύ κουζίνας και μπαλκονιού, όσο για να πιεις τρεις κούπες καφέ, βυθίζεσαι σ' έναν άλλον εφιάλτη, γεμάτο αλκοόλ και λανθασμένες αποφάσεις. Δεν σταματάς να διαβάζεις πριν φτάσεις στο τέλος. Υπέροχο.
Cphe
The story of John Grant, teaching in a three shanty town in the outback who yearns for the bright lights, women and beaches of Sydney. During the school break he sets out for Sydney but ends up waylaid in the town of Bundanyabba, and his descent into a"hell" of his own making begins.

This is a powerful story, and packs an emotional wallop, a dark and sinister air pervades. The writing is visual and descriptive. You can see the heat haze coming off the land, feel the flies, the all pervasive dust
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Tez
Jul 08, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: to-swap
WARNINGS: Alcohol addiction, smoking addiction, drunk-driving, drunk-shooting, shooting and murders of kangaroos, attempted suicide, possible sexual assault, gambling... If I've forgotten anything, I'm sorry.

NOTE: The greyhound is never hurt and remains alive.
Andrew Nette
Jul 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Rural noir is big at the moment, if the interest in US writers like Donald Ray Pollock, Cormac McCarthy and Daniel Woodrell, is anything to go by.

But while it is not be as well known, Kenneth Cook’s 1961 novel Wake in Fight is as good as anything that’s come out of the southern US, a searing story of masculinity, drinking and violence in regional Australia that still packs a punch today.

Fear of being trapped in the outback, as we call the vast expanse of harsh terrain that makes up the majority
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notgettingenough
If Summer of the Seventeenth Doll the movie was compromised beyond salvation by its attempts to Americanise it, Wake in Fright not only survived its international production team, but became, by all account a fine film which did justice to the book. I'm looking forward to finding a copy of it. Apparently the rights were first bought with Dirk Bogarde in mind as the star - perfect! Although that didn't happen, one of my favourite English actors played the role of the doctor when the movie finally ...more
Text Publishing
‘It might be fifty years since the novel appeared yet it retains its freshness, its narrative still compels, and its bleak vision still disquiets.…Cook can make us feel the heat, see the endless horizon, hear the sad singing on a little train as it traverses the monotonous plain.’
Peter Temple, from the Introduction

‘Wake in Fright deserves its status as a modern classic. Cook’s prose is masterful and the story is gripping from the first page to the last.’
M. J. Hyland

‘A classic novel which became
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Jeremy
Third Read (one day, off work, 4/3/16):

But no, perhaps it would not do to tell a story about his adventures in the west.


Yeah, yeah, Australia Australia Australia ... sure, that’s where it’s set. And it’s mostly men. So, masculinity. Yeah. And sometimes heterosexual men come into physical contact with each other (and look, if it’s a fight in a pub, I’ve been in those, out there, and I can tell you for sure that they were among the least erotic moments of my life, and it sure seemed the same for a
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Dillwynia Peter
Oct 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I remember this film from years ago. I can’t be sure if it wasn’t part of the Film Studies portion of my Year 10 English. Anyway, I remembered too much of the film, because as I read through this, I knew what was coming next and I wanted to scream at John Grant for not doing the stupid thing he was about to do.

Because this is exactly what you want to do. A young man, drunk, making really dumb decisions based on what he sees around him. Those early scenes are quite surreal and you are engaged in
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Vincent
Jul 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Légèrement plus sombre que ce que je lis d'habitude, mais intéressant et bien construit. Il y a des non dits qui laissent place à l'interprétation et à la discussion, ce qui donne une bonne profondeur.
Shirley Marr
Jun 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: aussie-adult
I read this in two sittings. I went into it 'blind' without reading the blurb or any reviews which might give me an inkling about the content. The story started out harmless enough - school teacher John Grant can't wait to get out of his small town day-job and back to Sydney - but there was something about the writing which made me certain something horrible was going to happen. I physically trembled while reading this. Not because of the violence, but because I couldn't imagine this story havin ...more
Text Publishing
‘It might be fifty years since the novel appeared yet it retains its freshness, its narrative still compels, and its bleak vision still disquiets.…Cook can make us feel the heat, see the endless horizon, hear the sad singing on a little train as it traverses the monotonous plain.’
Peter Temple, from the Introduction

‘A chilling outback horror and an Australian classic.’
Guardian, Top 10 tales from the frontier

‘Wake in Fright deserves its status as a modern classic. Cook’s prose is masterful and th
...more
Kimbofo
Feb 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-reviews
Kenneth Cook’s Wake in Fright, first published in 1961, is a true Australian classic.

Billed as the first outback horror story, it brims with menace and suspense. In the introduction to this new Text Classics edition, Australian crime writer Peter Temple says it “probably set Australian tourism back at least twenty years” for the picture of outback life depicted here is a hellish and frightening one.

It tells the story of a young school teacher who travels to a rough outback mining town called Bun
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Armin
Nov 16, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Widerwillige vier Sterne für dieses Lost Weekend im Outback.
Saufereien bis zum Suizid sind nicht so meine Liga, weder im wirklichen Leben noch in der Literatur. In jüngeren Jahren habe ich aber mehr als einmal erfahren, an was für Leute man so alles gerät, wenn man ohne Geld in einer fremden Stadt strandet. Dabei hat der glücklose Zocker Grant mit seinen Bekanntschaften und Gastgebern sogar verhältnismäßigen Dusel, niemand will ihm was Böses, alle sind superfreundlich in Yabba, spendieren dem ba
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Diego González
Jul 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novela, australia
Sublime novela corta sobre el Outback en los años 60. Una galería de personajes a cada cual más brutal y desquiciado, todos ellos sin salirse de lo considerado normal en el calcinado desierto central australiano. Médicos sin licencia, mineros que se juegan o se beben el sueldo, rudos curritos que se divierten despanzurrando canguros a escopetazos, camioneros que tolerarán cualquier desaire excepto que no te tomes una cerveza con ellos y por supuesto, el calor, el polvo y bares en mitad de la nad ...more
Philipp
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: australia
'Powerful' is probably the most apt word here.


He sat at his desk, wearily watching the children file out of the room, reflecting that, this term at least, it was reasonable to assume that none of the girls was pregnant.


John Grant, a very young man from Sydney just out of university, has to work in a remote town as a teacher for three years to pay off the university debt. He saves his money all year to fly back to Sydney, to civilization (=air conditioning, snooty people, unreachable pretty girls
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Tara
Oct 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book left me feeling wrung out; sleepless and dehydrated. I read it with a constant hangover.
The gradual descent into madness. The black humour of survival.
It's not so much 'horror', as psychological torment. Your only question is what is real and not real. But it doesn't matter; you have to continue stumbling forward.
Brilliantly written prose and a well developed storyline. I don't recall the book being overly descriptive, but I am still able to visualise the entire town and all the charac
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Anne-Marie
2 étoiles et demi. Pas la lecture la plus joviale, hein. Mais à cause de la description, je m'attendais à plus d'horreur que ça. Aussi, j'en ressors un peu déçue. Malgré tout, je suis vraiment intriguée par le film.
Ivan
Apr 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 4-notables, en-2017
Fascinante historia que viene a decirnos que cada uno se busca su propia suerte y que si uno se empeña en ir de mal en peor, irá de mal en peor. A veces no existe la mala suerte, sino una elección desafortunada detrás de otra. Pánico al amanecer se lee muy rápido, aunque el ritmo se resienta en algunos momentos, pese a que la historia que se nos cuenta es de lo más patética.
Matthew Goodwin
Jul 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
It's difficult to pin down exactly why Kenneth Cook's novel is so creepy, but there is a definite element of menace that runs through every element of the novel. The outback characters' motives are benign and innocent on the surface, but somehow Cook makes them all the more ominous for these very reasons. Perhaps it's because our protagonist, John Grant, himself a rather unlikable antihero, distrusts them all. He is repulsed by them, constantly describing them as awful, troll-like creatures with ...more
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The Patrick Hamil...: Wake in Fright by Kenneth Cook 1 5 Oct 04, 2018 08:18AM  
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Born 1929, died 1987. Kenneth Cook was a prolific Australian journalist, film director, screenwriter, TV personality and novelist. He is best known for his novel Wake in Fright, which became a modern classic and is still in print, and for his Killer Koala trilogy.
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“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, north, south and west of the Dead Heart - the beer is always cold.” 4 likes
“Peculiar trait of the western 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 enemy. What the hell? He didn’t even want to think about the west or its people and their peculiarities. Let them be. Once he was in Sydney, who knew, he might never come back.” 2 likes
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