A new book *****

15 Mar

SOON –

Author –  Lois Murphy

Publisher – Transit Lounge Publishing.   2017

I loved this book, with all its Australian references and challenges of distance. I did not want to put it down. I recommend it highly.

Pete McIntosh, retired from his official police duties, speaks to us in typically pedestrian, Australian style.  He laments past life, family and career which  are his reasons for escaping to a reclusive lifestyle, away from large cities.  His health is poor, and he wants peace of mind.   Time was, when he bought his property, and this little town housed a school, some families and a small but more interesting community, which needed a police officer.

In retirement, he justifies his present situation – in 1999 – in the depressed, lost town in Western Australia, Nebulah, which resembles Wittenoom in Western Australia, the once booming industrial site for manufacture of blue asbestos.  Lois knows Australia and Australians well, capturing in the moods and characters of this story.

Inspiration for this ghost town story, stems from reality. The now almost totally deserted, blue- asbestos ruined town of Wittenoom ,WA, is mirrored in  Nebulah.  Soon implies hope for a future, which becomes less likely to happen, as chapters are turned. Like tomorrow, or anon, will it come?

Pete invites us to his home, frequently when his apple pies are in the oven. His thoughts and story enfold as we meet this tiny, diminishing, group of stayput friends in Nebulah, as disappearances and deaths fall victim to violent, sinister events and environmental ruin from a pall of mist at nightfall.     The Government has removed the township’s old signpost, and  its tiny population is ignored, forgotten, as they struggling  to survive.  No  shops , school or library remain just a  cultureless group of houses remaining occupied,  where “weeks flow through the calendar  like a sluggish river.”

Pete’s TV, practical skills, support, and basic life necessities are shared with his neighbours. They support each other in their predicament,  as they have bought their properties which are  no longer saleable.  They cling to their homes and memories from before the visit of a group of suits to their cemetery.  Land Agents, Mining spies perhaps, who disappear, along with some earlier residents.   Mystery and suspense hold our attention, as well as beautiful writing and interesting characters, the stay-puts.  Even when every task is difficult,  they say put, gathering together when possible. 

 Ghastly violence, ghostly images, disappearances and deaths occur frequently, as the friends network collapses. Darkness and terror pervade, by the weight of the nightly, malevolent mist. It is Winter Solstice, so long nights prolong the fear. What shall they find when daylight comes? There is no escape.

 That sluggish river of time, and the pall of mist in long darkness, are  cruelties. Weighted by fear, Pete and his friends reveal their character through conversation and task sharing.    Crisp conversations , Australian  style are good to read.   Li, the refugee lady from Kmer Rouge fights to take produce from her once organic orchard and farm to the nearest town, so far away, in her rattletrap, unsafe car, is a source for fruit basics, and a friend to bring back supplies, tobacco, alcohol and other necessities, from her market trips.

Although this is a dark book,  delightful  writing makes it a joy to read. Interesting and damaged characters, relationships, word pictures so lyrically written hold interest throughout.  Powerful mystery projected me from one chapter to the next

Supplies and visitors are rare.  Organic orchard products –such as apples, grown and marketed miles away, by Li – a refugee from Khmer Rouge – keep her always busy. She brings back supplies, tobacco, beer among them. Old vehicles, unserviced trucks covering many miles to nearest towns clattering along, race home in fear, to lock up safely, before the mist invades.    Unreliable servicemen, police contacts based many miles away give limited help occasionally.

There is a small community of dogs here too. Dog Gina, Pete’s best friend, named after his tormented ex-wife, is constant and loyal.   All living beings are affected nightly by the evil, violent,  cataclysmic curtain of mist; heard, smelt, seen, breathed, and inescapable. Birds have left, plants wither, in this wilderness.

While supernatural forces are not my usual book choice, and Mist is used as a metaphorical  character here,  it represents to me destructive forces bringing down civilised life, as we have enjoyed it,  today.   Currently there are 2000 Pacific Islanders being deported from their homes, as climate change and rising tides  threaten their safety.  Will some of them refuse to go, leaving all behind them?  Wars, droughts, floods, tsunamis, earthquakes, starvation, disease,  displace people by the thousands. Will a few remain behind and face ultimate destruction?  What population levels are sustainable? How many residents remain at Wittenoom now, defying the odds against them? Are indigeneous families still there? With only 7 others staying put on their properties, what level of risk are they enduring?

As environments decay around us, surely our planet cannot remain sustainable. So, yes, there are uncontrollable forces, ideologies, greed, and savagery, and many more , destructive forces  influencing human life, just as does this lethal, intrusive mist. We need cautionary stories to remind us and this Australian perspective , so well written, is

As environments decay around us, surely our planet cannot remain sustainable. So, yes, there are uncontrollable forces, ideologies, greed, and savagery, and many more , destructive forces  influencing human life, just as does this lethal, intrusive mist. We need cautionary stories to remind us and this Australian perspective , so well written, is welcome.

I am looking forward to reading more of Lois Murphy’s fine writing – in her uniquely Australian way.

As environments decay around us, surely our planet cannot remain sustainable. So, yes, there are uncontrollable forces, ideologies, greed, and savagery, and many more , destructive forces influencing human life, just as does this lethal, intrusive mist. We need cautionary stories to remind us and this Australian perspective , so well written, is welcome.
I am looking forward to reading more of Lois Murphy’s fine writing – in her uniquely Australian way.

Such a good read 

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