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on 21 March 2016
This is an enjoyable book, although, for me, not nearly as insightful as it could be. Part of the reason for that is because it's essentially a travel book. And like all travel books it's about who the journey and all the funny wee characters and encounters that the author has along the way.
Chatwin certainly has a way with words, which is both compact and poetic, with which he paints vivid pictures in the reader's mind - Australia comes alive as this primordial landscape overlaid by a pioneer upstart attitude of Westerners. It certainly conveys the vast strangeness that makes up Australia and it's people.
However, like all travel based accounts, it's seen through a traveller's eyes, so there's a detachment and a slight sense of remove about his accounts. Which is a total shame, because every now and again, a glimpse of how the Aborigines see and interpret their word is utterly awesome.
If Chatwin had been able to get into the Aborigines mindset and been able to convey this, this would have been a much more satisfying book for me. However, it is still a highly enjoyable read, and if you like anything that gives glimpse of a different world and other ways of life, then read this book.
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on 7 September 2015
Much of Chatwin's writing was a journey to discover why and how nomadic peoples exist in this world and he uses the chance to explore the songlines of the Great South Land as a representative example of such an existence. He claimed this book as fiction but the existence of the songlines and their significance to aboriginal culture in Australia is made abundantly clear in this easy to read book. The writing style is a mixed bag. On the one hand, it is casual and laid back, reflecting the nature of the characters, both white and indigenous, of the Northern Territory. Chatwin has beautifully captured the vernacular of the region and ably describes the extremes of climate and landscape. On the other hand the book is peppered with literary references to works from a wide range of other cultures - from ancient Greece to the Soviet Union, which at times can be distracting to the point of annoyance. For anyone interested in Australian indigenous life and culture and who has never heard of the songlines, this book offers an enjoyable introduction to their existence and their significance while Chatwin cleverly draws the universal threads of the story of nomadism together with anecdotes about these people across the globe.
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on 30 November 2016
There are some gems in this book about the ancient culture of the Australian aborigine culture and their songs they create that reflect the nature of their stretches of land that they use. Other people hold songs for their parts of the land also, so it becomes a huge pattern of songs created for the whole of the country. A lovely way to honour the planet.
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on 1 February 2015
The wonderful Kate Bruce Chatwin at his best! I learned so much about the aboriginal culture of Australia from this charming book, and enjoyed his travel experiences as he explored for himself. Sometimes his academic background takes over and he can get a bit bogged down in the anthropological stuff, so I just skipped that! But recommend most highly as a privilege to read!
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on 2 February 2016
It hasn't worn well, either that or I am a more cynical person now.
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on 6 May 2016
Recommended by a friend. Does not disappoint.
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on 17 September 2015
A huge book - one of those books that keeps giving. Reading it again after many years, so many new things appear to me.
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on 14 June 2015
What can I say? It's just wonderful.
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on 7 July 2014
A bit of a slow read, interesting characters and very informative on the Aborigine culture. It feels quite a masculine book, not a lot of emotion involved.
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on 26 August 2013
This was a present for my mum, as she lost her copy. I haven'nt read it but all I know from her is that this book is unique, beautifully written and one of her favourites.
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