THE TRACK TO BRALGU by B. Wongar
Kirkus Star

THE TRACK TO BRALGU

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The settlers cleared the bush long ago and the country hereabouts looks like a skinned beast."" Written with an impudent vigor and irony resembling black African writings of the Sixties, these twelve stories present the Aboriginal version of the white man as burden, spoiling the land and trampling on the people. Balanga, the white man, arrives ""with a Bible in one hand and a gun in the other,"" obsessed with rocks, ignorant of cultural integrity, routinely imprisoning blackfellas: the lockup is both setting and symbol. Spirits appear and physical transformations go unquestioned. A wife wakes up to find her husband a dingo. A prisoner, turned Anteater by an industrious professor, sounds off--an especially nimble story. Although the sensibility belongs to a survivor (Wongar is a pseudonym) and the images are native, the writing model is classical Western, an unusually skillful, resonant blend. Of a spit of land near the coast: ""It's an odd shape, three camps long and hardly two voices wide, and it lies alongside the mainland shore like the carcass of an eel with its tail plunged into the mainland."" Other images are unforgettable: the Queen as computer, a loaf of bread floating in the sea--the remains of a thief shot while escaping. ""From here you can watch the willy-willy travel across country with its pole of red dust tickling the bottom of a distant cloud."" Word-rich and energized--a genuine look-up-and-listen voice not heard here before.

Pub Date: June 8th, 1978
Publisher: Little, Brown