Wake in Fright by Kenneth Cook

If Summer of the Seventeenth Doll the movie was compromised beyond salvation by its attempts to Americanise it, Wake in Fright not only survived its international production team, but became, by all account a fine film which did justice to the book. I’m looking forward to finding a copy of it. Apparently the rights were first bought with Dirk Bogarde in mind as the star – perfect! Although that didn’t happen, one of my favourite English actors played the role of the doctor when the movie finally eventuated. Donald Pleasence, again, one could scarcely imagine a more suitable actor for the role.

I happened to find myself on a plane with this for company just two days after seeing Summer. An over-used word, but surely a pair of iconic Australian stories, Wake in Fright in a way filling in the background of Summer, the life of the guys out bush that you don’t see in the play. It’s a gripping tale of the famous Aussie hospitality taken to a degree that becomes menacing to the outsider who finds himself trapped in the bush.

Can’t believe I haven’t read it before – highly recommend it to anybody who has a few hours to spare (it’s short) who wants to understand an Australia which we in the city never see.

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