3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Personalised Outback experience,
This review is from: The Songlines (Vintage Classics) (Paperback)
Chatwin's skill in conveying the experience of his travels, the breath of daily existence, is masterfully portrayed in The Songlines. The Songlines are the traditional pathways across Australia followed by aboriginals as they literally sing their way through their native country, passing from one tribal homeland to another, acknowleding the occupation rights of each whilst, in effect, securing safe passage by recounting their own ancestry. Chatwin exposes both the helpers and do-gooding hinderers of the Aborignal cause; those who inflate their own self esteem on the pretence of protecting them; those who simply exploit them for financial gain and those who really do have their best interests at heart. Meanwhile, in the background and threatening everything, is the potentially self-destructive nature of the aboriginals themselves.
Overlayed on Chatwin's inaugural excursion into Australia's unforgiving outback, experiencing the perils of simple survival in a land where nature and tribal custom override any outside influence, The Songlines is a wonderful evocation of a life few of us will have the opportunity to personally experience. The only slight negative for me was Chatwin's spell of reminiscing his travel notes from previous journeys. At first insightful into Chatwin and his life, this went on too long and became a little tedious.
Having recently read Remembering Babylon by David Malouf, Chatwin helps build a solid picture of life on another planet.