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Message Stick Paperback – December 26, 2008
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-Hackney Literary Awards Committee
"Initiates Cunningham into the ranks of respected authors such as Michael Ondaatje and Sarah Gruen."
-Dena Harris, internationally published author of Who Moved My Mouse?
"A brilliant flow of friendship, ancient wisdom, sorcery and retribution. This is not an uptown homicide but one inked with shamanic intrigue and a spiritual battle of souls."
-Dale Stacy, Diamond in the Rough
"Characters so real and memorable you won't put this book down. One of the best stories ever to lie in our laps."
-Pamela King Cable, Televenge
"Demonstrates a mastery of psychological introspection and an uncanny feel for the spirit of place. The novel hit us all very hard."
-James Jones Literary Society
"From the beginning, it's obvious we are in the hands of an exceptional writer and master storyteller. Insight into the characters, skill with language, and careful plotting are brought together in a package that explores the soul of her characters as well as the soul of a nation and its people. Cunningham has crafted a truly special book."
-Edmund R. Schubert, award-winning author Dreaming Creek
"If you enjoyed Alexander McCall Smith's series you'll enjoy this biracial Aborigine's exploration of the land, his inner feelings and who he truly is in this engaging story of Australia today."
-Patricia Canterbury, Tanner Sullivan Mysteries
From the Author
I went anyway. I had to. The life I had been leading was killing me. I was working a corporate job I hated, had been bucking for a promotion for over a year to no avail, and wasn't pursuing my true place in the world. I knew that even if I died in the outback, I would have done something meaningful in those last short months.
After purchasing a twenty-year-old Ford sedan, I set off. For months I traveled territory so rough I had to drive down the middle of the two lane road. I chewed through five tires, carried spare gasoline, and stored a two-week supply of food and water in the trunk. Every night I pulled off into some lonely patch of desert, cooked over an open fire, and slept under the stars.
One day I was traveling on a raised roadbed. There are no speed limits on the outback roads and was doing about 75. One of the tires blew. The car was thrown off the raised road and literally bounced into the desert. I could not steer or brake. As I waited for the car to slow itself down, a single tree blocked my path. It was that same tree I'd seen in my vision.
I sank into the seat. I can still feel the metal springs in the seat cushion as the car bounced again. I sank down, knowing the seatbelt would not protect me.
Then I straightened up. I decided that this was not what I wanted. I looked at the roadway. It was further away than the tree. Yet the moment I thought, That's where I want to be, the car was back on the road.
The entire experience in the outback changed me forever. Shortly after returning to the US, I left that deadly corporate job and began my career as an author. I learned that I should always make choices based on what's best for myself. I know that I have the power to survive anything...anything.
After returning to the U.S., I cashed in my 401K and started writing. This novel is one of the first things to come from that time and those lessons.
Top Customer Reviews
‘The only thing that seems to hold any promise is an artifact Ian mailed the week he disappeared.’
In Alice Springs, Gabe discovers that the artifact is a message stick. He’s told that it is something to do with death, but he needs to find someone from the right tribe to read it. Gabe’s journey through the outback draws the attention of Dana Pukatja, a Pitjantjatjara medicine man who does not want Gabe to find the truth.
This is an interesting and at times convoluted tale. Gabe needs to become more aware of his own Aboriginal past and culture. He needs this awareness in order to understand both the world in which he finds himself, and what happened to Ian. The journey is difficult, both physically and emotionally. The supernatural also has a large role. Gabe encounters people who help him, and those who discriminate against him. Where does Gabe belong? And what about Dana Pukatja: can Gabe find the truth despite his best efforts?
‘White men, with their metal and machines and their mania for conquest, never understood Aborigines or their land.’
The vastness of the Australian outback is vividly depicted in this novel: a remote place which can be very unforgiving of those who enter it. The outback is both backdrop to the story and a character within it.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It isn't easy to tell a tale that has twists and turns unlike anything commonly read. It is a feat to create a surreal world in a real world setting. Read morePublished on August 4, 2014 by ManNamedKim
This is a novel you can't put down. It is superior on all fronts. I have a thing for lyrical writing, having unsuccessfully
used that mode in my earlier work. Read more
Dense with emotion and tension, but relieved by warmth and laughter that is the mark of deep caring relationships, The Message Stick is beautiful, painful, humbling. Read morePublished on June 28, 2014 by Becky Parker Geist
This level of detail and feeling of the Outback could only come from someone who was deeply immersed in it. Read morePublished on March 4, 2014 by Armand E. Daigle III
When is this going to be a movie?! Laine Cunningham writes this story perfectly. With her descriptive, colorful words. Read morePublished on February 5, 2014 by MrsG
Laine Cunningham has done an amazing job writing Message Stick! I never thought I could find amazing beauty and the horrific thrills of being stalked by Pitjantjatjara shaman! Read morePublished on January 20, 2014 by Kristina Reading