I was led to this novel by Cathy of Kittling Books.
From the premise, a platypus escapes from the Adelaide Zoo and heads north looking for the “Old” Australia, I expected a lot of whimsy and Richard Bach stuff.
What I got was an easy-to-read, hard-to-put-down novel of life and death in a fantastical setting. A world of fantastic animals doing far too human things.
There are so many parallels with modern Australia and its rather strange politics. These are probably accidental as the author is from New Mexico with only a passing acquaintance of “Old” East Coast Australia. Yet he has found the unmentionable underground racism, the naive acceptance of the greediness of the “Bosses”, the bullying of those with the printing presses and the paradoxical mateship so necessary to survive the harshness of the Australian desert.
I am not going to spell out the subtle references in the book. I shall leave those for other readers to discover. In fact, I have this feeling that every reader will bring something of themselves to the meanings of this tale. This is possibly the hardest task for a story-teller and it is achieved easily by Anderson.
Moving away from the feelings and ideas engendered, the actual plot is strongly influenced by the “Old Wild West” of America. Battles and feuds and twistings of the Law abound with blood and injuries and death. All set in an authentic Australian desert landscape.
I recommend that all my Australian readers grab hold of this book and spend several hours looking for “Old” Australia. Then consider just how close to or far from “New” Australia that vision truly is.
Ruffling the perceptions of my place in the world is the greatest gift a writer can give. My equilibrium, like that of a spinning top, has been disturbed and when it stops wobbling I shall be in a new place.