Wake In Fright: Text Classics

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Text Publishing, Apr 26, 2012 - Fiction - 224 pages
3 Reviews

Wake in Fright tells the tale of John Grant's journey into an alcoholic, sexual and spiritual nightmare. It is the original and the greatest outback horror story. Bundanyabba and its citizens will forever haunt its readers.

This edition includes an introduction by Peter Temple and an afterword by David Stratton.

Wake in Fright was made into a film in 1971, arguably the greatest film ever made in Australia. It starred Donald Pleasence, Chips Rafferty, and Jack Thompson in his first screen role. Lost for many years, the restored film was re-released to acclaim in 2009.

Kenneth Cook was born in Sydney in 1929. Wake in Fright was published in 1961 to high praise in New York and London, and launched Cook's writing career. Cook wrote twenty-one books in all, along with screenplays and scripts for radio and TV.

Peter Temple is one of Australia's finest writers. His novel Truth won the 2010 Miles Franklin Award and the Victorian Premier's Literary Award. Temple has written nine novels and has been published in more than twenty countries.

David Stratton is co-presenter of At the Movies on ABC television and film critic for the Australian. He has also served as a President of the International Critics Jury for the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals, written three books and is currently lecturing in Film History at the University of Sydney.

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'It might be fifty years since the novel appeared yet it retains its freshness, its narrative still compels, and its bleak vision still disquiets...Cook can make us feel the heat, see the endless horizon, hear the sad singing on a little train as it traverses the monotonous plain.' Peter Temple, from the Introduction

'Wake in Fright deserves its status as a modern classic. Cook's prose is masterful and the story is gripping from the first page to the last.' M. J. Hyland

'A classic novel which became a classic film. The Outback without the sentimental bulldust. Australia without the sugar coating.' Robert Drewe

'Wake in Fright is a classic of the ugly side of Menzies' Australia, its brutality, its drunkenness, its anxiety to crush all sensibility. All of this is harrowingly reacorded - the destruction of a young soul fresh to Australia - in Kenneth Cook's remarkable novel.' Thomas Keneally

'A true dark classic of Australian literature.' J. M. Coetzee

'...a kind of outback Lord of the Flies...Written entirely from Grant's point of view, the prose is at first straightforward, the landscape and its people evoked simply and vividly. But later, as Grant descends into his own personal hell and finally to the depths of despair, the writing takes on the quality of a delirious dream. The concluding narrative twists will rock both Grant (and the reader) back on their heels.' Crime Time UK

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - whirled - LibraryThing

This book's grim reputation had me expecting some sort of outback Deliverance, but it thankfully never quite reached that level of depravity. Which is not to say that you should lend Wake in Fright to ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - clstaff - LibraryThing

Stuck in fictional western NSW mining town (based on Broken Hil) with no money things go down hill pretty quickly for school teacher John Grant. You can almost feel oppressive outback heat and increasing claustrophobia of Grant's situation - unable to escape the town and its inhabitants Read full review

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About the author (2012)

KENNETH COOK was born in Sydney in 1929, and attended Fort Street High School. He went on to work as a journalist, among other jobs. In Wake in Fright, his second novel, Cook drew on his observations of Broken Hill, in New South Wales, where he spent a couple of years in the early fifties working for the Australian Broadcasting Commission. Wake in Fright was published in 1961 to high praise in New York and London, and launched Cook’s writing career.

Wake in Fright was made into a film a decade later, arguably the greatest film ever made in Australia. It starred Donald Pleasence, Chips Rafferty and Jack Thompson in his first screen role. Lost for many years, the restored film was re-released to acclaim in 2009.

Cook was not only a novelist but a political activist and a romantically impulsive entrepreneur. Opposed to Australia’s involvement in the Vietnam War in the late 1960s, he stood twice unsuccessfully for federal government on an anti-conscription ticket. One of his proudest possessions was a congratulatory telegram he received from President Ho Chi Minh. Later, on a whim he opened a butterfly farm on the Hawkesbury River, installing his kids and friends to attract tourists and insect lovers. Needless to say it failed. His chain of poor luck was broken by the success of his comic bush stories written soon after this, including Killer Koala.

Cook wrote twenty-one books in all, along with screenplays and scripts for radio and TV. After separating from and then divorcing his first wife, Patricia, with whom he had four children, he married the writer and editor Jacqueline Kent in 1987, a few months before his death at the age of fifty-seven.

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