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Fly Away Peter Paperback – May 26, 1998

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Malouf is subtle, lyric and insistent. His stories enter the memory and stay there." Irish Times "Simply brilliant and naturalistically told" Guardian "The continuities of nature are set against the obscenities of war...to contruct a memorable book" Sunday Telegraph "The novel of a poet without a single trace of overwriting" Daily Telegraph --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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In this shimmering work of imagination, one of Australia's most honored writers conjures a single still moment on the edge of the 20th century in which two unlikely people share a friendship. When Ashley Crowther returns to Australia to manage his father's property, he discovers a timeless landscape of kingfishers and ibises; he also meets Jim Saddler, the young woodsman who becomes Ashley's guide to his inheritance. Together they discard the differences of personality and class to enter a partnership of wonder. But when war breaks out in Europe, Jim and Ashley are drawn into obscene enterprise of the trenches, where death falls from the sky and burrows out of the earth. In telling the story of these men, Fly Away Peter combines overwhelmingly sensual imagery with an unblinking consciousness of the worst that history can inflict to produce a novel of phosphorescent beauty.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reprint edition (May 26, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679776702
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679776703
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,672,478 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Steven Reynolds on June 14, 2002
Format: Paperback
Malouf deals with big themes here: the continuities of nature; the horror of human conflict; our desire to hold onto the past, and the necessity of relinquishing it. But he handles them in such a personal, beautiful and profoundly moving way that he manages to say it all in under 150 pages. Some readers might prefer more languorous pacing, but Malouf has no reason to stall. Unlike many writers, he knows precisely what he's doing. His precision is utterly astounding. He can say more, move you more, in a dozen pages than lesser writers seem to manage in whole careers. Chapter 14, scarcely more than 2000 words, is the most powerful account of the Great War - what it meant, what it can be made to mean - that I have ever read.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Natalie on June 3, 2001
Format: Paperback
David Malouf's prize winning novel, 'Fly Away Peter' is a beautifully written story that both beautifies and simplifies the life of humans and animals. Malouf has to be considered as one of Australia's leading writers and poets. This novel is not a story to be read if one is after light entertainment. It is truly the work of a poet, a fine piece of literature. His descriptive text beckons the reader to find a deeper meaning. The simple messages of love, friendship and the beauty of life are both refreshing and moving. Do not attempt to read it if you are after cheap thrills. This book needs to be savoured. It follows the lives of three main characters, Ashley, Jim and Imogen. Together they appreciate the joyous beauty of nature by studying and photographing a sanctuary owned by Ashley. However the terror of war rips the paradise apart and leaves the three friends seperated and questioning the meaning of life. Through different experiences, each character comes to a similar conclusion, that life is simple, beautiful and a gift to be enjoyed. It will go on over any hurdles. There are always survivors. An interesting read if you are having difficulties facing each day.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By David Brady on March 9, 2000
Format: Paperback
"The interesting part of Fly Away Peter is the depiction of war. The novel moves too slowly until we get to that part."
The statement may be true if Fly Away Peter is read simply for the depiction of war. There is however, more of interest to the novel than just war. Fly away Peter moves at a very reasonable rate. When Jim is introduced, then Ashley too, at first the reader is told little about them. Their characters are developed gradually so that it is not until halfway through the novel that the reader starts to know them. At this stage he goes to war. Malouf depicts the atrocities of war well, the trenches, the duckboards and the way the English officers had no idea, but he also shows the other side of the coin at the start, like paradise, a Garden of Eden. The sanctuary where Jim worked for Ashley, the swamp in it - this was Jim's Eden. Then he went to war and he found his Hell.
In the novel Malouf shows attention to detail, but doesn't overdo it. You can feel the passion he writes with, when describing the birds, the swamp and Queensland. Jim's paradise, the swamp, and the land in the sanctuary are described, but a little bit is left to your imagination. This is so that it can take on a little of your own idea of paradise. Jim's father has taken a negative attitude towards life, as a result of his life experiences. He resents Jim and his association with the upper class lot. Jim doesn't have his father's sense of class distinction and is not self-conscious of differences between the classes. Ashley, Jim and Imogen Harcourt (a photographer) all have the common bond of the swamp and the sanctuary. This is where they go to see the different birds.
Jim goes to war.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By taking a rest HALL OF FAME on February 1, 2001
Format: Paperback
I have read most of Mr. Malouf's novels and he is an Author of remarkable talent and consistency. It has generally not been whether a given work is good, just how very good it is. He almost competes with himself alone when he pens another work. This work, "Fly Away Peter", is closer to a novella in length, but felt a bit crowded when read. It would seem examining an issue in depth, or a general theme in breadth can be accomplished without a regard for length, rather just skill. This time out I felt there was room for two or three times the length of the actual work.
This book promises to deal with the issue of men from different classes of life, how they place the strata of society aside and become partners. And then to narrate how the First World War draws the two different men into its maw. These men are not the only characters, and it is not just their histories the Author must communicate. When all of these aspects are brought together in barely 134 pages, it became incomplete for me, almost claustrophobic. Mr. Malouf is a remarkable writer and poet. To read any of his work is to read great literature from this admired Australian Author.
The four stars may seem to contradict what I have said, however I cannot go back and change all of the previous books of his I have commented upon. This is excellent reading when placed next to much of what is available; it only comes up short when compared to the balance of his work. It certainly is worth the time to read and enjoy, it should probably be placed at the beginning of reading his body of work, rather than near its end.
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