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Keep Australia on Your Left Paperback – 25 Jul 2002


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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: St Martin's Press; Reprint edition (25 July 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312874596
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312874599
  • Product Dimensions: 14.3 x 2.6 x 23 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,877,770 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Remarkable." -"Publishers Weekly""What a hell of a movie this drama-packed journey would make! Little did Stiller realize how much his life would change when a handsome Australian named Tony Brown wandered into his store . . . and told him in a matter of fact tone that he wanted to kayak around the whole bloody continent of Australia . . . . A highly dangerous undertaking that would eventually bring Tony and Eric to the brink of disaster. One heck of an adventure."-"Library Journal""I have the highest regard for Eric Stiller's courage as a traveler, and skill and imagination as a writer." -"Paul Theroux "

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It was past closing time at the Klepper Kayak Shop. Read the first page
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By alcfisher@hotmail.com on 6 Jan 2002
Format: Hardcover
An immensely enjoyable read, aside from the fact that I am interested in the Kayak used in their trip this is a real trip down memory lane for all those who have visited the east coast of Australia.
As for the journey itself it is hard for anyone who hasn't been at sea in a kayak to understand the magnitude of what these two achieved. A big positive about the book itself was that it doesn't only appeal to kayakers but is a real insight into how two characters from very different walks of life lived together in extreme conditions for 5 months and the ups and down of that relationship along the way. Who knows maybe there will be another attempt one day.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: 31 reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
a depressing account of a great achievement 19 April 2005
By Laptantidel Latuda - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I got this one for my birthday and started reading it with great enthusiasm. Few people have attempted to circumnavigate Australia in a kayak and except of Paul Caffyn no one succeeded so far. Therefore, Eric Stiller (the author) and Tony Brown (his paddle partner) are in good company with their failed attempt to complete the circumnavigation. This book is Eric's account of five months of paddling over 3500 miles from Sydney along Oz's east and north coasts to Darwin.

Paddling almost half the way around Australia in a Klepper foldable boat in five months is a great adventure. It must have been quite an amazing journey along one of the worlds most beatiful shorelines. However, there is hardly any of this aspect in the book. Instead you'll get bored of Eric's dwelling in endless complaints about his sore butt, the always higher-than-expected swell, and his ever ongoing struggles with Tony. The only thing more disappointing than Eric's whining about all the evil surrounding him is the stretch of lousy b/w pictures (on all of which the water is as flat as a mirror, so there must have been a couple of good days at least).

The title refers to Tony's rejection of Eric's request to buy charts for the trip. Instead, he recommends, to simply "keep Oz on the left". I would not want to go on a week-long trip with a guy as naive as that. Tony's naive attitude and Erics subordination to Tony's moods borders on stupidity more often than not. Day after day the two get up too late to make their distance in daylight, they have to make a dangerous landing at some beach they can hardly see in the dark, they find some food and exhaustedly fall asleep, which makes them get up too late the next morning and so on. They once take off in a storm out of a "cabin-fever" mood and almost die that day, triggering a coast guard search. A long list of misjudgements and rants of self-pity later, the duo almost get themselves killed in the gulf of carpentaria and, to the big relief of the reader, give up their journey shortly thereafter.

Eric does not seem to really enjoy any of this whole trip - everything always seems to be worse than expected. He doesn't seem to live the journey, he seems to long for it to end before it even started. The book reads as if all this was pushed onto him, and this way it ends up to be a depressing account of quite a tremendous achievement. Unfortunately, Eric does not seem to understand anything of what has happened. Instead of writing a pity-party of a book like this, he should fall down on his knees and thank his god for the fact, that he pulled his sorry butt out of this alive.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
A great tale 18 July 2001
By Rohan Gibbs - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
As an Australian I loved the way the author described the characters in this book. They all seemed to be giving, friendly folk who saw this "Epic" trip as a cool thing to do but nothing to get too excited about. It made me a little homesick. Eric Stiller writes with a style that slowly hooks you and then gently pulls you along for a wild ride without getting too worked up. He almost gets too emotional and then he'll break away just in time, especially with regards to a girlfriend back in the states. While some will say Eric was a bit of a whinger, and to some degree he was, I noted with interest that it was Eric who did the majority of planning before and during the trip and that Tony while having a she'll be right mate atttitude also came accoss as a guy who was used to having the mundane things done for him by someone else and that he was there for the adventure. I really enjoyed this book and I have never been in a kayak before. Highly recommended to those like myself who enjoy all travel narratives.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
You Thought Backpacking in Europe w/ Your Roommate was Tough 23 May 2001
By Kyle Okimoto - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Keep Australia on Your Left is a very interesting book on a number of accounts. People who travel with friends in foreign lands know the inevitable strains that traveling in unfamilar territory places on a relationship. Couple that with the harrowing experiences that Eric and Tony encounter daily in their kayak, Southern Cross, and you've got an adventure that is not only taxing on the body, but also the psyche.
To me, a non-kayaker, the fact that the trip was made in a kayak is irrelevant. It is interesting because it is about traveling in a foreign land, travelers finding themselves in dangerous circumstances, and the strain of travelers extracting an irreparable toll on the travelers' relationship.
Unlike a couple of my fellow reviewers, I do not know Eric Stiller. But based solely on what I have read, I have to say that the one major issue that I have with the book is that I don't exactly like Eric! I commend him for his honest feelings throughout the book, but I found him to be extremely self-involved, quite unrepentant, and for lack of a better phrase, "smarter than thou." And I question how much he has learned or has changed as a result of his experiences. I feel for Tony's having had to endure this for the duration on the trip under life-threatening circumstances.
That said, I enjoyed the book and commend both of them for making it as far as they did.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
You Thought Backpacking in Europe w/ Your Roommate was Tough 23 May 2001
By Kyle Okimoto - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Keep Australia on Your Left is a very interesting book on a number of accounts. People who travel with friends in foreign lands know the inevitable strains that traveling in unfamilar territory places on a relationship. Couple that with the harrowing experiences that Eric and Tony encounter daily in their kayak, Southern Cross, and you've got an adventure that is not only taxing on the body, but also the psyche.
To me, a non-kayaker, the fact that the trip was made in a kayak is irrelevant. It is interesting because it is about traveling in a foreign land, travelers finding themselves in dangerous circumstances, and the strain of travelers extracting an irreparable toll on the travelers' relationship.
Unlike a couple of my fellow reviewers, I do not know Eric Stiller. But based solely on what I have read, I have to say that the one major issue that I have with the book is that I don't exactly like Eric! I commend him for his honest feelings throughout the book, but I found him to be extremely self-involved, quite unrepentant, and for lack of a better phrase, "smarter than thou." And I question how much he has learned or has changed as a result of his experiences. I feel for Tony's having had to endure this for the duration on the trip under life-threatening circumstances.
That said, I enjoyed the book and commend both of them for making it as far as they did.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Whiny man-boy gets in over his head 26 Oct 2001
By Eric Johnson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
While, I can't say this book was a bad read, I can say that it was uninspiring. For me the biggest problem with the book is that Mr. Stiller comes off as whiny, confused, self-centered, and childish. The superfluos details of his failed love interest is a case in point. Did the guy think he had any real hope of maintaning a relationship with a bartender he hooked up witht he night before he left? More time spent on the imapct of being away from family and serious, life-freinds would have shown a greater depth of feeling. Also, the breif periods of non-whiny self-reflection are not well integrated and don't show any actual growth of charater. I know this is real life, but in a book this long drama counts.
Also, Mr. Stiller is no Hans Junger or John Krakuar(sp?). His descriptive flare burns out after the first few pages. The beauty of the landscape and the diversity of the people are skimmed over. Instead we get mundane details and whiny self-indulgence. Endless descriptions of Stiller's bitch sessions about his paddling partner, obsessing over planning, and the vain hope of picking up a letter from the bartender, who dumps him.
The account of the trip--which I must point out involves TWO people--is poorly balanced. Tony Brown gets the short end of the stick and that is really too bad. Tony Brown must be one hell of a guy to put up with Stiller for as long as he did. Also, it seems to me that Brown was actually "into" experiencing the trip as an adventure. I'm pretty sure that with a paddling companion like Mr. Stiller I would have bailed much earlier that Tony eventually did.
For a good tale of kayak expeditioning read On Celtic Tides by Chris Duff.
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