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The lucky galah de Tracy Sorensen
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The lucky galah (edição: 2018)

de Tracy Sorensen

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It's 1969 and a remote coastal town in Western Australia is poised to play a pivotal part in the moon landing. Perched on the red dunes of its outskirts looms the great Dish: a relay for messages between Apollo 11 and Houston, Texas. Radar technician Evan Johnson and his colleagues stare, transfixed, at the moving images on the console -although his glossy young wife, Linda, seems distracted. Meanwhile the people of Port Badminton have gathered to watch Armstrong's small step on a single television sitting centre stage in the old theatre. The Kelly family, a crop of redheads, sit in rare silence. Roo shooters at the back of the hall squint through their rifles to see the tiny screen. I'm in my cage on the Kelly's back verandah. I sit here, unheard, underestimated, biscuit crumbs on my beak. But fate is a curious thing. For just as Evan Johnson's story is about to end (and perhaps with a giant leap), my story prepares to take flight...… (mais)
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Among those of us of a certain age, ‘lucky’ is a loaded word when applied to a book title. Since Donald Horne published The Lucky Country in 1964, taking Australians to task for their philistinism, provincialism and mediocrity, its ironic title has resonated with all those who yearn for a more imaginative, independent and outward-looking nation. (Just tonight, the ABC filed a report on the woeful state of innovation in Australian business and manufacturing). Rosa Cappiello riffed on Horne’s title in her novel Oh, Lucky Country! (see my review) and Donald Horne, frustrated by the wilful misreading of his title, wrote a follow-up called Death of the Lucky Country.
Tracy Sorensen’s debut novel is set in 1969 in a remote WA coastal town that both conforms to and defies Horne’s criticisms. It’s where a satellite dish is set up to capture signals from Apollo 11 and Texas, and you can’t get more outward-looking than space, but with one ill-fitting exception, (the outsider Harry Baumgarten), the characters and their preoccupations are distinctly philistine, provincial and mediocre, except for their talent at improvisation. The novel could be a fictional exploration of Horne’s critique…except that it’s narrated by a galah.
I like experiments with narration but there are certain kinds of narrators that I dislike: dead children, dead bodies, and any character that whines. So I didn’t have a predisposition to dislike a narrator that’s a galah. It’s a dislike that grew on me as I read the book. Ultimately it seemed a pointless device, its only merit being a not very convincing and sometimes irrelevant ability to capture the signals between the satellite dish, allowing the galah to receive insights from everyone in the town. However, since the quirkiness of this narration may appeal to some readers, I shall set that aside and focus on the story.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2018/05/06/the-lucky-galah-by-tracy-sorensen-bookreview... ( )
  anzlitlovers | May 6, 2018 |
It’s no secret that I adore birds. So when I first heard about The Lucky Galah, I was desperate to read it. I have a multi-generational family of these beautiful pink and grey cockatoos that visit regularly and reading about them just sounded like so much fun! The added bonus of this story is that it’s set in an area I’m familiar with, north west coastal Western Australia. The fictional town of Port Badminton is a close ringer for the town of Carnarvon, dish and all. But in the 1960s, many things are happening in this small town…

Lucky tells us the story, switching between the 1960s (an unhappy time for her, caged and unloved in a backyard) and present day. Lucky notes that her life is much happier now, selecting books to rip up with human companion Lizzie. She’s free to move about and be a true companion. Lucky’s a very smart bird, noting that her rise to freedom starts just as Evan Johnson, radar technician, begins to fall… The Johnsons are the key characters of the story, moving from Melbourne to Port Badminton so Evan can work on the dish that will be receiving signals for the moon landing when it happens. While Evan is happy, it’s a culture shock for wife Linda. She’s a fish out of water in this town that is rather frontier like in its manners and customs; plus it’s just too hot! Linda’s not sure if she’s happy to settle to be just Mrs Johnson or whether something more could be lurking across the Causeway.

Lucky sees it all from her home at the Kelly’s (next door but one). The Kelly family is completely different to the Johnsons – loud with children and no airs or graces. But are Marj and Kevin truly happy with their lot too? Lucky sees it, and as she grows wiser can hear the transmissions from the satellite dish on the edge of town. Later, she can interpret these thoughts and this is the clever way that the reader gets into the heads of Linda, Evan, Marj, Kevin and others. While Port Badminton is a small town in the middle of nowhere, it’s never dull. The threads of different people come into Lucky’s sphere and she tells parts of their stories, focusing on the feelings and descriptions.

The overall plot of the book is the build up to the moon landing, but it’s not really the focus. It’s the objective that most of the characters orbit around, but there are some like the Dogger who prefer to make their own tracks. Evan is a slave to his work, distracted and rarely taking his eyes off the task. Linda wants to break out of the mould, but isn’t quite strong enough to make a clean break. Poor Lucky doesn’t have a choice at all and I found these descriptions quite upsetting as a bird lover! Tracy Sorensen really gets into Lucky’s head and I could both believe and accept that this novel was being narrated by a galah. Lucky, you can have tea and a biscuit with me any time!

The description in The Lucky Galah is also spot on. The scenes of the hot, dusty streets and the roaring of the cyclonic winds are just perfect. It truly evokes memories of that area just above the 26th parallel from the jetty to the river. Overall, I really enjoyed this book because of Lucky and the setting. It seems strange to have a bird narrator, but it worked perfectly for me.

Thank you to Pan Macmillan for the copy of this book. My review is honest.

http://samstillreading.wordpress.com ( )
  birdsam0610 | Mar 10, 2018 |
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It's 1969 and a remote coastal town in Western Australia is poised to play a pivotal part in the moon landing. Perched on the red dunes of its outskirts looms the great Dish: a relay for messages between Apollo 11 and Houston, Texas. Radar technician Evan Johnson and his colleagues stare, transfixed, at the moving images on the console -although his glossy young wife, Linda, seems distracted. Meanwhile the people of Port Badminton have gathered to watch Armstrong's small step on a single television sitting centre stage in the old theatre. The Kelly family, a crop of redheads, sit in rare silence. Roo shooters at the back of the hall squint through their rifles to see the tiny screen. I'm in my cage on the Kelly's back verandah. I sit here, unheard, underestimated, biscuit crumbs on my beak. But fate is a curious thing. For just as Evan Johnson's story is about to end (and perhaps with a giant leap), my story prepares to take flight...

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