Wednesday, 30 January 2008
Death of a River Guide by Richard Flanagan
Set in the Tasmanian rainforest, this is a story of tourists and the environment, Aboriginal history and family secrets. Aljaz has given up leading tour groups but has agreed to lead one another as a favour to a friend. He's out of condition and not able to successfully lead the group, which leads to accidents and mis-judgements, prompting him to think back over his life. I love the parts of the book set on the river, the river itself is a fully developed character in the book, roaring through the gorges and dominating all the human activity, demonstrating the utter power of nature. At the same time, Aljaz's personal stories are moving and give interesting insights into the history of Tasmania and the relationships between convicts, free settlers and aborigines and the descendents of all these groups. The book very effectively uses rafting as a metaphor for life and builds up emotional power as it moves along.