Welcome to Nooweep, a quaint town on the edge of the Australian outback, where the women are scarce and the men are...

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SMALL TALES OF A TOWN

Welcome to Nooweep, a quaint town on the edge of the Australian outback, where the women are scarce and the men are odd-looking and any resemblance to Lake Woebegone, coincidental or not, is touted on the book's cover. Through the course of 26 vignettes, the nameless narrator, a journalist, introduces us to the town's characters--a central casting lineup of Rotarians, clergy, publicans, and cricket-players. There is a token revolutionary named ""Nigs,"" who moves to town preparing to transform the old Kookaburra Cafe into the ""Engles Wholefood Community Cooperative Limited,"" and there is the narrator's housemate, Tam, an eccentric artist who likes to roam around naked and borrow unlocked cars. We follow the narrator and these types through floods, fires, and the smaller, more everyday mayhems of country life--a case of mass food poisoning following a cricket match; a family wedding with an obviously pregnant bride; a strike at the meatworks; and a local election, where the glad-handing incumbent, doling out free drinks to the crowd, is mistaken for Father Christmas. Webster writes with grace. There are fine moments, especially in her evocative descriptions of the flat outback landscape, moving from heat and drought to rainy season and the ""fine stubble"" of new green grass that spreads across the plains. But, in all, her characters--too quaint, too cute, and too crazy--never engage us fully, and her anonymous narrator isn't much help. He's so sketchy that we almost lose sight of him--no Crocodile Dundee, he, and, for that matter, no Garrison Keillor either.

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 1988

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1988