Tag: Julia Leigh

The Hunter by Julia Leigh

Posted May 28, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Contemporary / 0 Comments

The Hunter by Julia LeighTitle: The Hunter (Goodreads)
Author: Julia Leigh
Published: Penguin, 1999
Pages: 188
Genres: Contemporary
My Copy: Personal Copy

Buy: AmazonBook Depository (or visit your local Indie bookstore)

Under an assumed identity of Martin David, Naturalist, M arrives to hunt down the last Tasmanian tiger rumoured to exist within Tasmania. On the edge of the wilderness, he will soon slip into an untouched world of silence and stillness. Hunting the last thylacine, an animal extinct since the 1930’s, but a sighting has been reported.

Julia Leigh, born in 1970 in Sydney, Australia, has received critical acclaim even though she has had a very small writing career so far. The Hunter in 1999; a novella in 2008, Disquiet; and then she wrote and directed the 2011 movie Sleeping Beauty (not to be confused with the fairy tale). I tend to think that most of her acclaim came from people expecting great things from her after she was selected to be the protégé of Pulitzer and Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison in 2002 as part of the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts international philanthropic programme.

The Hunter is an interesting novel because it follows a post colonial narrative which is unheard of for an Australian novel. When it comes to Australian adventure novels, most of the time characters just get lost in the wilderness not go hunting dangerous animals.  This leads to an interesting portrayal of the thylacine, which I will look at later. The Hunter may be a stripped back quest narrative but it feels very American and masculine for an Australian female author. American in a sense that the hunt narrative could be compared to Moby Dick, Old Man and the Sea and even The Bear, comparisons which she has acknowledged. Masculine in the way she gives approaches this novel with detachment, contempt and control over the death hunt subject matter. You could compare the paired back minimalist prose to something found in hard-boiled fiction, but not quite.

M is the archetype of a hunter, a figure that inhabits the story rather than one the lives in its world. There are not too many details of this character, but he seems to have similar characteristics as the hero in a spaghetti western. Ruthless, cold, calculating and inhuman but never unethical; though the lack of character development is an important part of this book. It forces the reader to keep him at arm’s length so we can study him. It’s almost like Julia Leigh has been taking active steps so that we never warm to him.

He is never a role model or anti-hero; he is just a faceless man in pursuit of the last remaining thylacine. What does the thylacine represent in this book? Imagination, hope for the future, guilt of the past, living in harmony with nature or a biotech ghost in a Tasmanian gothic novel? It’s up to the reader to decide, but while we are on the subject of the thylacine, does this animal both represents the Australian wildlife, an animal going extinct to raise global awareness as a form of Ecocriticism or is it supposed to be an animal that could harm or kill the hunter? These are the questions that I believe Julia Leigh wants us to ask as readers.

Julia Leigh setups a situation where the reader has to reason with their imagination and emotions in order to get the reader to think about what the author might be saying. I really like how you can read The Hunter as an adventure, a Tasmanian gothic or as ecocriticism. No matter which way you read this you are not wrong. I thought of this more as a western; just with the way the protagonist was portrayed and the people drinking in the bar reminded me of those rednecks drinking in a saloon in those spaghetti western films. I’m interested to see how people read this book and just see what they got out of it.


Monthly Review – April 2013

Posted April 30, 2013 by Michael @ Knowledge Lost in Monthly Reading / 0 Comments

As we draw April to a close I have to admit that while I’ve almost caught up on all my book reviews for this blog, I’m feeling like I’m in a reading slump. It’s a new feeling for me that is causing frustration; I recently started a new job which has been mentally draining me so I hope that is the only reason behind this slump. But rather than focus on my frustration, let’s talk about the positives. You might have noticed I’ve been posting a book review up practically every day, this was because I got so far behind in reviews I would read a book and want to talk about it but waited two months for it to go live. While a book review every second day was a great idea I managed to get too far behind and now that I’m almost fully up to date I can go back to what I wanted to do with this blog. While reviews are important part of this blog and my reading journey I want to leave some room for some bookish related posts that aren’t reviews. Maybe some guest posts, my lovely wife has done some great ones in the past and a huge thanks to Mish and Toby for their posts as well. I want to generate some interesting posts that aren’t just reviews; so with any luck this will happen soon (I have an interesting one about satire planned).

As for this month; the book club focused on Japanese literature and read Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World by Haruki Murakami which I really enjoyed and you can read my review here. I know many people are Murakami fans but to be honest, the only other novel I’ve read of his was 1Q84 and I didn’t enjoy it. I’m looking forward to what the book club does next month when we read The Strange case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde for our supernatural theme. If you haven’t gotten involved with this book club and are interested in exploring literature with us, then you can do so over on Goodreads.

My reading this month was rather unproductive, I did manage to read ten novels but most of them were in the first half of the month and I think many of them were under 200 pages. My highlights included Burial Rites by Hannah Kent, The Son by Philipp Meyer, Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and of course this month book pick for book club. But the book that stood out the most was The Reader by Bernhard Schlink, which I remember enjoying the movie but only remembered what happened as I read through this novel. I think I got sucked into this world that I didn’t want to leave, sadly that only lasted for a day then the book was over;the ups and downs of reading. What was your month of reading like? What were the highlights?

My Monthly Reading