Tag Archives: Kenneth Cook

Wake In Fright: Dusty and Thirsty in the Outback

WAKE-IN-FRIGHTIf the popularity of writers such as Donald Ray Pollock, Cormac McCarthy, Daniel Woodrell and Frank Bill is anything to go by, rural noir is a big deal in the United States.

While it may not be anywhere near as well-known, for my money, the 1961 novel Wake In Fright by Australian writer Kenneth Cook is up there with the best of them. The film adaption of Wake In Fright hit Australian cinemas in 1971. Forty-three years later and it’s hard to think of comparable piece of cinema that has come out of the country.

Wake In Fright was a blistering take on three of the central features of the 1960s white Anglo Saxon culture in Australia: mateship, the romance of the outback, and drinking. Especially drinking.

You can read the rest of this review here at the Criminal Element site.

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Book review: Wake in Fright

Rural noir is big at the moment, if the interest in US writers like Donald Ray Pollock, Cormac McCarthy and Daniel Woodrell, is anything to go by.

While it is not be as well known, Kenneth Cook’s 1961 novel Wake in Fight is as good as anything that’s come out of the southern US, a searing story of masculinity, drinking and violence in regional Australia that still packs a punch today.

Fear of being trapped in the outback, as we call the vast expanse of harsh terrain that makes up the majority of Australia, is still semi hard-wired into the psyche of most city dwelling Australians. So, imagine how terrifying the prospect was in the sixties, when our interior was so much more remote and alien.

John Grant is a mild mannered teacher working in a tiny speck of a town called Tiboonda. Its isolation and distance from the coast has obliterated nearly all aspects of civilisation, except the ability of the local pub to keep the beer cold. As Grant puts it: “In the winter you wished for the summer, in the summer you wished for the winter, and all the time you wished to blazes you were a thousand miles from Tiboonda.”

Grant has six weeks leave ahead of him and 140 pounds in his pocket.… Read more