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by author "Andrew McGahan" in Literature & Fiction
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The White Earth
Length: 12 hrs and 42 mins
3.5 out of 5 stars
3.5 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars
His father dead by fire and his mother plagued by demons of her own, William is cast upon the charity of his unknown uncle – an embittered old man encamped in the ruins of a once great station homestead, Kuran House. It's a baffling and sinister new world for the boy, a place of decay and secret histories. His uncle is obsessed by a long life of decline and by a dark quest for revival, his mother is desperate for a wealth and security she has never known, and all their hopes it seems come to rest upon William's young shoulders.
In the freezing Antarctic waters south of Tasmania, a mountain was discovered in 1642 by the seafaring explorer Gerrit Jansz. Not just any mountain but one that Jansz estimated was an unbelievable height of 25,000 metres. In 2016, at the foot of this unearthly mountain, a controversial and ambitious 'dream home', the Observatory, is painstakingly constructed by an eccentric billionaire - the only man to have ever reached the summit.
Blistering, brilliant, corrosively sharp and blackly comic, Underground goes straight to the heart of the country's future - and it isn't pretty. Think ahead five or so years from now, to an Australia transformed by the never-ending war on terror. Canberra has been wiped out in a nuclear attack. There is a permanent state of emergency. Security checkpoints, citizenship tests, identity cards and detention without trial have all become the norm. Suspect minorities have been locked away into ghettos. And worse - no one wants to play cricket with us anymore.
William is eight-years-old when his father is killed in a farming accident and he is invited, along with his psychologically fragile mother, to live with his great-uncle John McIvor at the decaying homestead of Kuran House. The property is the original station of the Darling Downs and the imminent Native Title Act is of great concern to the local landowners. McIvor, a hard and driven man, is organising a rally against the Act, whilst at the same time testing William as a potential heir of Kuran House.
It's a decade since the infamous Inquiry into corruption tore the state of Queensland apart. But for George Verney, disgraced journalist and bit player in the great scandals of his day, the Inquiry has never quite finished. After 10 years of self-imposed exile, drawn by the terrible death of a man who was his friend, he reluctantly returns to Brisbane, the city of his downfall. In a town he no longer recognises, and through an underworld that has forgotten him, George must seek out the other hidden survivors of his times, to confront the truth about their common past.
In McGahan's prequel to his best-selling debut, Praise, Gordon, failed writer and bottleshop boy, feels his life is going nowhere and heads north with Wayne in search of their rightful place in the culture of a nation. 'A lighthouse. A weather station, thousands of miles away. For six months. I drank steadily. With alcohol it all made sense.' It's the Bicentennial year, and for Gordon it seems his life is going nowhere. It's time to escape. From his overcrowded house, from Brisbane, from Expo 88, from everything.
On an unnamed island, in a Gothic hospital sitting in the shadow of a volcano, a wordless orphan girl works on the wards housing the insane and the incapable. When a silent, unmoving and unnerving new patient - a foreigner - arrives at the hospital, strange phenomena occur, bizarre murders take place and the lives of the patients and the island's inhabitants are thrown into turmoil. What happens between them is an extraordinary exploration of consciousness, reality and madness.