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When Colts Ran

de Roger McDonald

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2121,054,265 (3.67)2
Shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award and the Prime Minister's Prize for Literature Shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award and the Prime Minister's Prize for Literature In this sweeping epic of friendship, toil, hope and failed promise, multi-award-winning author Roger McDonald follows the story of Kingsley Colts as he chases the ghost of himself through the decades, and in and out of the lives and affections of the citizens of 'The Isabel', a slice of Australia scattered with prospectors, artists, no-hopers and visionaries. Against this spacious backdrop of sheep stations, timeless landscapes and the Five Alls pub, men play out their fates, conduct their rivalries and hope for the best. Major Dunc Buckler, 'misplaced genius and authentic ratbag', scours the country for machinery in a World War that will never find him. Wayne Hovell, slave to 'moral duty', carries the physical and emotional scars of Colts's early rebellion, but also finds himself the keeper of his redemption. Normie Powell, son of a rugby-playing minister, finds his own mysticism as a naturalist, while warm-hearted stock dealer Alan Hooke longs for understanding in a house full of women. They are men shaped by the obligations and expectations of a previous generation, all striving to define themselves in their own language, on their own terms. When Colts Ran, written in Roger McDonald's rich and piercingly observant style, in turns humorous and hard-bitten, charts the ebb and flow of human fortune, and our fraught desire to leave an indelible mark on society and those closest to us. It shows how loyalties shape us in the most unexpected ways. It is the story of how men 'strike at beauty' as they fall to the earth.… (mais)
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The last time I lost myself so comprehensively in a book was about 30 years ago when I read the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. For three or four days, I didn’t do anything else except read it, completely absorbed by a world utterly unlike my own. Reading When Colts Ran, just shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award, hasn’t been quite so all-encompassing, but since I picked it up from the library yesterday I’ve been lost in a rural world of men and boys who live a lifestyle as alien to me as the world of orcs and hobbits.

There’s been a bit of fuss and bother about the female perspective not featuring in the Miles Franklin shortlist and Angela Meyer (who admits to having read only Bereft ) claims that ‘Australian life, according to the Miles Franklin judges, is still represented by the past and the outback, and is written in a male voice. Sheep stations, war, colonisation’. When Colts Ran, however, is not about sheep stations, or even horses; it’s not a blokey book or a paean to the rural lifestyle. It’s about boys and men trying to redefine themselves in the modern world.

To read the rest of my review about a very fine book please visit http://anzlitlovers.wordpress.com/2011/04/22/when-colts-ran-by-roger-mcdonald/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Apr 24, 2011 |
This is a very Australian novel. It lives in the heart of C20th Australia and anyone with any experience of rural Australia has known characters very much like those brought alive in this book: the braggarts and bullies, the squattocracy and the wannabes, the losers, and the saints. The author ranges over both the dry outback and the lush pastures between the coast and the Great Dividing Range and the lives covered extend from WWI to now.

I haven't read all the big names among Australian authors but, in my experience, only Patrick White captures and expresses the essence of the people of the land like this. It's quite a different setting to Mr Darwin's Shooter: different century and different locales. McDonald portrays the settings and the characters with great authenticity and totally convincingly.

There are occasional sentences which brought me up short. I looked and tried to locate a subject, object and verb to make sense of it. I always found a verb as far as I recall but some sentences I still didn't make sense of - rarely and not enough to prevent me enjoying the colours, the rhythm and the human interest.

If you've ever enjoyed the very non-jingoistic nationalism of Patrick White, I think you would appreciate this very good novel.
  klerulo | Jan 12, 2011 |
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Shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award and the Prime Minister's Prize for Literature Shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award and the Prime Minister's Prize for Literature In this sweeping epic of friendship, toil, hope and failed promise, multi-award-winning author Roger McDonald follows the story of Kingsley Colts as he chases the ghost of himself through the decades, and in and out of the lives and affections of the citizens of 'The Isabel', a slice of Australia scattered with prospectors, artists, no-hopers and visionaries. Against this spacious backdrop of sheep stations, timeless landscapes and the Five Alls pub, men play out their fates, conduct their rivalries and hope for the best. Major Dunc Buckler, 'misplaced genius and authentic ratbag', scours the country for machinery in a World War that will never find him. Wayne Hovell, slave to 'moral duty', carries the physical and emotional scars of Colts's early rebellion, but also finds himself the keeper of his redemption. Normie Powell, son of a rugby-playing minister, finds his own mysticism as a naturalist, while warm-hearted stock dealer Alan Hooke longs for understanding in a house full of women. They are men shaped by the obligations and expectations of a previous generation, all striving to define themselves in their own language, on their own terms. When Colts Ran, written in Roger McDonald's rich and piercingly observant style, in turns humorous and hard-bitten, charts the ebb and flow of human fortune, and our fraught desire to leave an indelible mark on society and those closest to us. It shows how loyalties shape us in the most unexpected ways. It is the story of how men 'strike at beauty' as they fall to the earth.

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