The Voices

The Voices In the remote blood red dust of the Australian bush thirteen year old Billy Saint finds guidance not from his parents or their Western culture but from the landscape itself He turns to the outback

  • Title: The Voices
  • Author: Susan Elderkin
  • ISBN: 9780802141705
  • Page: 262
  • Format: Paperback
  • In the remote, blood red dust of the Australian bush, thirteen year old Billy Saint finds guidance not from his parents or their Western culture but from the landscape itself He turns to the outback, drawing the only joy he s known from simply watching and mimicking the kangaroos On his trips alone to the bush near his home, he begins to hear the Voices of the country, iIn the remote, blood red dust of the Australian bush, thirteen year old Billy Saint finds guidance not from his parents or their Western culture but from the landscape itself He turns to the outback, drawing the only joy he s known from simply watching and mimicking the kangaroos On his trips alone to the bush near his home, he begins to hear the Voices of the country, inscrutable figures that are alternately repulsed and attracted by the modern world Alone, they squabble with themselves and the Wind, ever slighted by the Aboriginals who no longer hear them They turn to Billy, sensing that he, although white, may be their last hope for survival But it is Maisie, an enigmatic and ghostly Aborigine girl, and a friend to the Voices, who befriends Billy on one of his forays, and together they explore the land and each other s worlds, leaving the Voices to wallow in their sloth and despair As Billy ventures further into the untamed land, his parents are drawn deeper into their own private miseries, unable to reach out to their son before he drifts away Confused by the quiet desperation at home, and terrified of the power he finds in the Voices of the bush, Billy flees to the relative safety and quiet of an underground mining community The cacophonous sounds of the mine drown out the Voices, and he begins to feel relatively safe within this new community.Ten years later Billy is alone in a hospital, recovering from gruesome wounds of mysterious origin Protecting him from the prying of the doctors, who believe him a dangerous schizophrenic responsible for the mad beating of a man on a train, is Cecily, an aboriginal nurse, and in her Billy finds an unlikely ally as he struggles to piece himself back together For it is Cecily who understands what his wounds signify, even if she has never seen them on a white man before Shifting between his hospital stay and the childhood that lead him there, The Voices unfolds into a mesmerizing exploration of the relationship between a man, the land he loves, and the spirits of the country, struggling to be heard before it is too late.With her haunting and psychologically complex tale of one boy who has internalized the trauma and the schisms of his land and its history, Elderkin boldly exposes the long and forceful arm of institutionalized injustice, and the inescapable hold of collective memory The Voices is an extraordinary accomplishment.

    One thought on “The Voices”

    1. One of the first things that struck me about The Voices is that one of the viewpoints in the book is first-person plural. With such an unusual POV, I knew that this was definitely going to be a book to see what happens in.Susan Elderkin is a strong, powerful writer who can truly represent her characters and the world they move in with exquisite precision. The writing in this book is some of the best I've read in a long time, and it might even seem slightly odd to anyone familiar with her work, b [...]

    2. In some ways, this was better than the author's debut novel, my review of which you can read here: /review/showThe reasons I think it's a shade better are that she'd clearly matured as a writer, and it's not (that I know) based on any aspect of her life other than the time she spent in Australia. It also deals with issues that are beyond the experience of most of us, so it's a stretch for the reader too.

    3. I can quibble about things I wish the author did differently, primarily the tempo at the end of the book, and the way she tried to wrap things up too nicely at the very end, even though things are messier than that (I smell an editor's hand in that). But, really, this was a powerful book, beautifully written and with deeply lyrical scenery. Definitely a book you should read.

    4. Great description of the Australian outback, but damned if I know what the hell was going on. A bit artsy-fartsy for me.

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