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The Roving Party
First time Australian novelist Rohan Wilson, winner of The Australian/Vogel Literary Award in 2011.
Infamous 19th century bounty hunter John Batman leads a roving party of hired and indentured guns in the capture and slaughter of Tasmanian Aborigines.
Bonfire of the Atrocities
Heart of Darkness, or the Nick Cave-penned film, The Proposition
Black Bill, a Vandemonian raised and educated as a white man. A skilled tracker and nasty with a knife, he is Batman’s right hand.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, probably best known for playing the stoic Mr. Eko on Lost.
Batman’s roving party hikes across some brutally harsh terrain filled with countless parasites and predators under unforgiving weather, most of them without shoes. Tasmania is definitely not a tourist destination.
Missus, if you shoot some fellow with that little gun and he finds out, by God he will come back and flog you, Bill said and he laughed.
The Roving Party has an interesting story to tell, about Black Bill’s conflict over hunting and killing his own people in order to feed his pregnant wife, but does everything it can to make reading that story difficult and frustrating. The stubborn refusal to punctuate dialogue properly means that you are frequently confused over who exactly is talking, and going back to figure out which sentences in a paragraph were spoken by the character or the narrator. This is why quotation marks were invented, so why not just use them? I’m talking to you too, Cormac McCarthy. While Wilson has an exacting eye for historical accuracy, most of the book is wasted describing every last rock, tree, leaf and patch of dirt in eye-glazing detail. The scenery to narrative ratio is way off. For every scene of intriguing character development or gut-wrenching travesty you have to wade through many long, meandering passages of repetitive landscape porn that add nothing to the story. All the elements of a top-notch historical Australian western are there, but they’re buried beneath so much faux literary bluster.
Bookshots review written for LitReactor.com by BH Shepherd