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OUTBACK AUSTRALIA I
AKIM*** The SutowB. .rs," ay Jen Cleary (Waraer Laurie) is written alone coa ventienal Unas, M ams shes* lt sat aalhanHn sir 1 tte Ams trattsn oateack and as saca desune* attention. It deals witta ttae ttfe af a ravine fam- ily ha tata early yean ana nadine World War t-By
It has no highlights, no strong drama or tense action. But it is pleasantly , written, with sufficient background ot the more-or-less unknown places in Australia fen carry
The author departs from his earlier and' more sordid efforts. Here is life in the raw, but comradely so, with a breath of the rough-and-ready fellow- ship that is associated with hard living and rough doing! -
The theme is that Australia, riding the sheep's back, more definitely rides the backs of those -who work the sheep. Their courage, endurance, wil- lingness to take the - strong buffets of life, are brought out strongly.
Cleary has gone to such lengths to provide what might be termed an innocuous book that, were it not for the clever characterisation, the story would be trifling. Actually, there ls little plot; no clash of ambition or poignancy of love awakes the emotions. From
start to finish the story flows along uninterruptedly. A Dick- ensian atmosphere of playful make-believe sometimes be- comes apparent. But the por- traiture is such that the book, once started, must be read.
It is, in ita way, as much an escape story as those that pass frankly.under that name. Re- miniscent occasionally of Kylie Tennant's "The Battlers," it translates the reader into an- other world, a world . where cities are remote, where hum- drum troubles about educating children and paying off the mortgage on the house are re- duced to vanishing point.
True, we come up against those who suffer, who endure bravely, who keep on building even when the elements do their best to crush every at- tempt. But the tenor of the story is such that it seems in- considerable.
We know, reading this, that they must wm through, some- how or another. Even, how- ever, if this is emphasised too strongly, the book has in it enough truth to warrant writ- ing. Australia, in the wider reaches of its vast domains, has been built by such people, and
continues to owe them an un- payable debt.
The only conflict is between Paddy Carmody and his wife. It is, however, a conflict so one-sided as not to matter in the real issue of the story. Paddy is a rover. His wife is also; although, her boy grow- ing up, she occasionally yearns for the permanence of a home, however primitive. Most of her life has been lived in a tent as, through the years, she follows her wandering husband. She is still following him when the story ends.
Between the opening-when Paddy is after a droving job in the north of Queensland and the end, when ha has fin- ished that and also the shear in? job that came after, much colourful character drawing takes place. The contrast be. tween Paddy and Venneker, the English remittance man, is amusing. The picture of Mrs. Firth, the public house owner, is hilarious. The boy, Sean, is carefully drawn.
The other characters are mostly stock. But, atock or not, they make good reading. The book moves happily through troubled times, with no one knowing, sometimes, where the next step will lead.
Born and brought up in Aus-
tralia, the author served with |
the Australian forces in the Western Desert and New Guinea, and is now resident in America. He has not forgotten the country of his- birth. The story is true to its background. Almost every allusion and sim- ile are Australian. The prose, crisp and clear, is fitting for the yarn; the anecdotes make rough laughter.