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Walkabout

Written by James Vance Marshall
Introduction by Lee Siegel


Walkabout
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Category: Fiction - Literary
Imprint: NYRB Classics
Format: Trade Paperback
Pub Date: January 2012
Price: $12.95
Can. Price: $14.95
ISBN: 978-1-59017-490-6 (1-59017-490-9)
Pages: 144
Also available as an eBook.



 
A plane crashes in the vast Northern Territory of Australia, and the only survivors are two children from Charleston, South Carolina, on their way to visit their uncle in Adelaide. Mary and her younger brother Peter set out on foot, lost in the vast, hot Australian outback. They are saved by a chance meeting with an Aboriginal boy on walkabout, who teaches them to find food and water in the wilderness, but whom Mary can’t bring herself to trust.

Though on the surface Walkabout is an adventure story, darker themes lie just beneath. Peter’s innocent friendship with the Aboriginal throws into relief Mary’s no longer childish anxiety, and together raises questions about how Aboriginal and Western culture can meet. And in the vivid descriptions of the natural world, we realize that this story–a deep fairy tale in the spirit of Adalbert Stifter’s Rock Crystal–must also be a story about the closeness of death and the power of nature.

“A haunting little idyll in the same vein as A High Wind in Jamaica and Green Mansions tells of two children, a boy and a girl, sole survivors of a plane crash in the Australian bush. Their fragile veneer of modern culture clashes with the primitive soul of a black bush boy who is making his tribal ‘walkabout’ —a half-year’s solitary journey in the wilderness to test his fitness to be a member of his tribe.” –Time

“A small classic, pared down to the bare bones. Many will not only enjoy it, but long remember it.” –New York Times

“[Walkabout] is to Australians what Robinson Crusoe is to the English.” –The Philadelphia Enquirer

“This is a choice little tale which will have devoted admirers. It discloses a rare beauty of human relationship among three children in a strange predicament on the crust of the earth.” –Newsweek

“Very tender, very touching, and sketched out with no sign of strain. The descriptions of the Australian bush are first-rate.” –New Statesman (London)

“A deeply-felt book, filled with information about desert flora and fauna.” –Times Literary Supplement (London)





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