With Pilgrim’s Progress, John Bunyan is often credited with perfecting the spiritual allegory. The journey of Bunyan’s hero, Christian, represents the believer’s path toward salvation. The same can be said of Zearben, the hero of Moon’s carefully streamlined, modern allegory. As wandering Zearben ascends “The Great Mountain—The Mountain of Wisdom” to the “Plateau of Remembrance” and pushes beyond it to knowledge, his quest is our own. But if Bunyan wrote in the Christian idiom, Moon’s vocabulary is that of New Age–y spirituality: “I am the spring above the waterfall / the iceberg in polar lands.” Zearben seeks not freedom from sinful bondage but instead what Moon alternately calls vision, oneness and wisdom. Moon’s is the faith of Paul Coelho (The Alchemist, 2006) and Kahlil Gibran (The Prophet, 1923), in which the quest for self-fulfillment and self-realization gives way to freedom and lasting peace. Yet Moon’s tale is unique in that it draws on the language and culture of Central and Western Australia; thus, Zearben’s search leads him past the billabong as he pushes further into the Outback to the song of the kookaburra. His journey is enthralling. Perhaps the only real failing here is that as Moon tries to describe the extreme states of consciousness Zearben achieves, his language sometimes slips from the heightened to the hypermystical, from the rarefied to the slightly ridiculous: “All of life was swimming through Zearben’s veins. Rocks loosened like great karmas peeling layer upon layer of limboed dust and blood in an archaic orgy of alchemist dreaming.” It’s fun stuff but purple prose. And yet Coelho and Gibran often do the same, so we can perhaps forgive Moon for his occasional excess.
An enthralling search for truth Down Under.