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It's 1969 and a remote coastal town in Western Australia is poised to play a pivotal part in the moon landing. Perched on the red dunes of its outskirts looms the great Dish: a relay for messages between Apollo 11 and Houston, Texas. Crouched around a single grainy set, radar technician Evan Johnson and his colleagues stare at the screen, transfixed, as Armstrong takes that first small step.
I was in my cage of course, unheard, underestimated, biscuit crumbs on my beak. But fate is a curious thing. For just as Evan Johnson's story is about to end (and perhaps with a giant leap), my story prepares to take flight...
The Lucky Galah is a novel about fate. About Australia. About what it means to be human. It just happens to be narrated by a galah called Lucky.
Review by Ben Hunter
It’s 1964 and a remote dot of a north Western Australian town has become the clandestine home to an enormous radio satellite dish, a mission-critical piece of NASA hardware that will be a lifeline between Houston and the moon-bound Apollo rockets. This dish beams communications directly into the mind of this novel’s narrator. That narrator is a pet galah named Lucky.
This is the refreshingly unique set-up of The Lucky Galah, an utterly engaging and beguiling new novel from Tracy Sorensen. Her screeching pink bird is the reader’s portal into a red dust town where the social/political revolution of the 1960s is a long way away and the ideas expressed within the pages of Donald Horne’s The Lucky Country don’t really feel within grasp. It’s a book that doesn’t just evoke nostalgia but asks us to question the way we live today. I won’t sift through the ins and outs of this story because I want you to enjoy its subtleties as I have.
This book is a bundle of Australian kook ready to disarm, charm and move its readers. Embrace it.
About the Author
Tracy Sorensen is a writer, filmmaker and academic. She was born in Brisbane, grew up in Carnarvon on the north coast of Western Australia and lived in and around Newtown, Sydney, for about 15 years. She now lives in Bathurst with her partner Steve and a black Labrador (Bertie). The Lucky Galah is her first novel.
Wonderful book- quintessentially Australian, and smart.
Great to score an author signed copy too- I sure it is going to be popular
an outstanding debut novel
The Lucky Galah is the first novel by Australian academic, journalist, film-maker and author, Tracy Sorensen. Lucky hadn't been named until she was rescued from imminent death by Lizzie, who knew a lot about birds. And not long after that Lucky first received a transmission from the Dish, up there on the Red Range outside Port Badminton.
The Dish had been installed for transmissions during the forthcoming lunar landing, and years of preparation for this historic event were necessary. But it appeared to be receiving and recording not just from outer space. Lucky loves stories, and now she has one to tell; some of it gleaned from what she saw and heard from her cage near the Kelly's outside toilet, at the back of their blue house in Clam Street, and some from data dumped by the Dish.
When Evan Johnson, his beautiful wife and sweet little daughter arrive in 1964 from chilly Melbourne, it's like a summer holiday. Linda Johnson is enthusiastic about Evan's new job at the Tracking Station and their relocation to Port Badminton, but that's before the heat hits.
The daughter of a reffo and a commo, Linda spends energy just maintaining the façade of 'normal' (a wooden salad bowl with matching servers, café curtains, Tupperware, frilly tennis panties), and she's popular with the other Tracker wives. But now: "…no fresh milk, no television, limited radio, nothing in the shops... no culture to speak of, the flies swarm over one's face… the mosquitoes eat you alive…" she's uncomfortable, unhappy and bored. Until, that is, entomologist and amateur ornithologist, Harry Baumgarten comes into town.
The narrative is split into two timeframes: the period between the Johnsons' arrival in Port Badminton and Evan's disappearance; and the present day. Overlooking Lucky's dumps from the dish, the plot is easily believable and reaches a climax with a suitably delicious twist. The reader is aware from the beginning that Evan Johnson disappears into the sea at the Blowholes soon
An Australian classic
The most original, quirky, charming novel I have read in...forever. The author inhabits the heads and hearts of so many diverse characters (both human and avian). It's set in a tiny coastal town, but the town and its characters feels like a microcosm of both yesteryear and contemporary Australia. Themes as diverse as the moon landing, intergenerational trauma, sexual liberation, small-town gossip, poverty, changing social mores and racism are explored with both humour and insight. It's so vividly written, I can really see this being turned into an Australian movie - a la Priscilla or The Dressmaker or Red Dog. I'm going to buy a bunch of these books and give them as birthday presents to friends. I think this book is an instant classic.
Four leaf clover
The Lucky Galah
ISBN: 9781760552657 ISBN-10: 1760552658 Audience:
Number Of Pages: 304 Published: 27th February 2018 Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia Country of Publication: AU Dimensions (cm): 23.5 x 15.1
Weight (kg): 0.39