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Remembering Babylon Hardcover – 1993

4.0 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 1993
CDN$ 108.71 CDN$ 0.03

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Pantheon (1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679427244
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679427247
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 14.6 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 431 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars 10 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,293,409 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Format: Paperback
Our book club recently read this novel for its monthly selection and found it to be a good choice. Although a couple of members were confused by the book's seemingly aimless direction and lack of a central character, the discussion we had was very lively and interesting. The author's nuanced insight into the point of view of each character let us see the profound effects Gemmy had on all the lives of the villagers. The work takes some digging to fully appreciate; then its poetic artistry and structure and purpose become more evident. The key is not to expect the book to read like a conventional novel of cultural conflict. This is more like a prose poem where the details are distilled to essentials, where an entire community is compressed into five or six main individuals, where symbolism expands the meaning and emotional content, where lyrical language stimulates thought, where ambiguity and mystery draw in the reader without giving way to romance. Gemmy, the catalyst for change, is complex and hard to figure: on the one hand he is pathetic, childlike, and vulnerable but on the other he is observant, considerate and spiritual. He brings out the best of those in the village who are open to new experiences and the worst in those who are close-minded and fearful. Also he touches the reader. This fable will be appreciated by the poetically-inclined and scorned by the literal-minded.
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Format: Paperback
I didn't read this for a class or an essay but I can see how it might have ruined it for me if I had to pick through it trying to find something tangible to say. That said, I found the trading of power (or at least the characters' perception of it) in this book most compelling. From one second to the next, as the characters in a scene come and go, or the shock of first appearances fade or linger, a feeling of control quickly becomes one of fear and distrust. It's a true Malouf masterpiece because he makes us think about the people in our own world today by letting us into a story in an otherwise distant time and place. It's a beautiful book, and reads to me- like most of Malouf's writing- like a pure stream in a dirty world.
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By Heather Pearson TOP 500 REVIEWER on Jan. 2 2011
Format: Paperback
Gemmy Fairley had been working as a ship hand when he became ill and feverish. His shipmates put him adrift on a raft rather than risk the health of the whole crew. Fortunately for Gemmy, the raft washed ashore on a desolate area of Australia. He was found by aborigines who he lived with for the next sixteen years.

One day while wondering with them, he spied some white men, whom he later sought out. A family in the new community took him in and tried to help him re-integrate into English style daily life. He had lost much of his earlier language skills and found it difficult to communicate.

What was happening with Gemmy was similar to what was happening with the English colonists. Both were out of their element and trying to fit their old lives into their current location. Gemmy had never had a 'good' nor 'safe' life and he didn't have the skills of how to live in a proper family. The colonists were trying to recreate an English pastoral life in a totally foreign environment that was often hostile to their attempts.

I most enjoyed reading of Gemmy's life and his attempts to fit in anywhere. He didn't find a safe place in England, not on the ship and even with the aborigines he was always an outsider. He wasn't either a white fellow or a black fellow, he was something else. I think perhaps that he was a lot of what was needed to for the transplanted English to survive in Australia, but that the whites refused to even consider the possibility.
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Format: Paperback
Gemmy Fairley doesn't belong anywhere. Tossed from the sea upon a wild Australian beach, the boy is a curiosity to the indigenous natives who discover and allow him to tag along, learning their language and customs. A strange yearning assails his dreams, images, memories of a beginning, brutal people and things barely glimpsed.
From a truly ignominious beginning, Gemmy schools himself to adapt to circumstances, intuiting acceptable behavior as necessary for survival. Throughout his wanderings with the Aborigines, he assumes the coloring of his surroundings, much as they do. But another voice, a distant curiosity calls Gemmy ever closer to the poverty-riddled settlers who view him as a threat. There is a life-defining moment for two young people, Lachlan and Janet, when they first see Gemmy, perched precariously atop a fence, held for a moment in time that marks their consciousness indelibly. Drawing Gemmy into their world, Lachlan is his mentor, Janet his friend, both protective of his innocence, forever fascinated with that first seminal glimpse.
In such an intimate and hardscrabble community, where human connections insure survival, Gemmy is a freak, too strange to be perceived as non-threatening, white, but with the outward visage of a black. Fearful and superstitious, they draw away, repulsed. Eventually, Gemmy finds himself moving back into the bush, unable to manage the demands of such a borderline civilization. Years later, as adults, Lachlan and Janet deeply reconnect over their youthful remembrance, that slender thread that attached them to Gemmy for that short time in their young lives.
The writing is powerful and beautifully rendered, with a sense of awareness that pulses with life. Immersed in nature's stark reality, words become feelings, thoughts merge with the heartbeat of humanity at its most vulnerable.
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