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Tracks: A Woman's Solo Trek Across 1700 Miles of Australian Outback Paperback – May 30, 1995
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Why does Robyn Davidson walk 1,700 miles across the Australian desert accompanied by four camels? Tracks is a quintessential adventure, yet the adventurer's relationship to her own quest is ambivalent and nuanced. She never directly explains her motivations, but it's clear that she's been driven to the starkness and isolation of the desert by something so personally powerful that she may not understand it herself. Ironically, when she accepts the financial backing of the National Geographic, her private "trial by fire" is doused by the popular concept of romantic independence she represents to others: "I was beginning to see it as a story for other people, with a beginning and an ending." She feels pursued and invaded by the photographer assigned to follow her, by the people who intercept her with questions and interpretations. Yet her ultimate confrontations are with her own rage and desperation, with the personal and cultural repercussions of racism and misogyny in her own experience, and with the paradoxical ugliness and beauty of the rural Australia she encounters. The integrity of this articulate and impassioned account is evident in the fact that Robyn Davidson does not find glib solutions to inner or outer conflicts. Like her camel companions, she seems temperamental, insatiable, and slightly crazy, but also determined, direct, vulnerable, and splendid.
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A cult classic with an ever-growing audience, Tracks is the brilliantly written and frequently hilarious account of a young woman's odyssey through the deserts of Australia, with no one but her dog and four camels as companions. Davidson emerges as a heroine who combines extraordinary courage with exquisite sensitivity. 16 pages of photos.
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A great deal of this book deals with the mental anguish she felt at the disrespect of people for the natives and the land. I would have liked to read a bit more about the land and the wildlife - for example there was almost no mention of kangaroos or emus. This account brings us back to an era when we didn't all have GPS's and satellite maps, an era when a person was a bit more on their own than today.