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Death of a River Guide (1994)

by Richard Flanagan

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
4482147,370 (3.95)78
Beneath a waterfall on the Franklin, Aljaz Cosini, river guide, lies drowning. Best by visions at once horrible and fabulous, he relives not just his own life but that of his family and forebears.In the rainforest waters that rush over him he sees those lives stripped of their surface realities, and finds a world where dreaming reasserts its power over thinking. As the river rises, his visions grow more turbulent, and in the flood of his past Aljaz discovers the soul history of his country.Richard Flanagan's 1994 debut about a mythical Tasmania dazzled readers around the world, and is now recognised as one of the most powerful and original Australian novels of recent decades.… (more)
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» See also 78 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Flanagan's language is something else. It encapsulates the Australian environment. ( )
  jaydenmccomiskie | Sep 27, 2021 |
Wonderful writing but oh so sad. With 5 kayaks sitting outside the house the book had to go before anyone else read it, but I'm very glad to have read it myself. ( )
1 vote Ma_Washigeri | Jan 23, 2021 |
There is nothing really wrong with this book and it may even be a really good book, as other reviewers have indicated. There are some remarkable passages and a couple of interesting memories. However, this book did not speak to me. I found it muddled, swirling, eddying, like the river in the gorge and like the unfortunate rafters I found it took all my effort to hang on and to get to the end.

At times I wished he would just hurry up and die. I'm not generally so callous... ( )
1 vote nick4998 | Oct 31, 2020 |
All of Australia, Tasmania, past and present, is there, seen through the eyes and the memory of the river guide trapped in the water. Remarkable book. ( )
  jon1lambert | Jul 24, 2020 |
‘’One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh. But what connects the two? What remains? What abideth in the earth forever?’’

My introduction to Richard Flanagan’s work was the award-winning The Narrow Road to the Deep North which didn’t particularly excite me. I was impressed with his talent for description and the communication of his characters’ thoughts but the story left me cold. Now, I have the blessing to have a wonderful boss. She adores books as much as I do and Death of a River Guide was her Easter gift to me. I can verify that I am glad because this novel, the debut of Richard Flanagan back in 1994, was one of the most beautiful and atmospheric reading moments of the year.

‘’You are given the gift of life and what happens? You want to throw it away!’’

Aljaz Cosini, a river guide of European origin, is trapped in Franklin River in Tasmania. Aljaz is waiting to be rescued and narrates his story and the course of his ancestors. Aljaz is waiting to be rescued and narrates his story and the curse of his ancestors. Because Aljaz is blessed and cursed by visions that demonstrate his past and the tumultuous journey of Tasmania, a land that remains a mystery to most of us. The immigrants, the native people whose home is snatched violently, the relationships, the thoughts of the tourists that desire to verify their preconceived notions of a country they know nothing about.

‘’My vessel is stopped and making no way through the water.’’

In ethereal, mystical, moving prose, Flanagan gives us a man that has seen and felt everything. The persecution of his ancestors, the first meeting of his parents, the life of the ones who shape his own course. He narrates his childhood under the guidance of a wise woman, Maria Magdalena, his love affair with an impressive girl, and the terrible loss he had to face. Aljaz becomes the instrument through which Flanagan comments on themes related to immigration, culture, imperialism, overcoming hardships. No theme is stronger, though, than the effervescent, instinctive will of the human being to push further, to resist the tendency to despair and start again. Sometimes, however, this proves to be a Herculean task.

Aljaz is a beautiful character, a man who fights against his fate. Surrounding him are characters that are rich and complex. Sonja and Harry, Couta Ho, Maria Magdalena, the Cockroach. Each one of them represents a human tendency, our feelings and our goals, our thoughts and deeds. With very little dialogue and haunting descriptive passages, Flanagan draws the portrait of a man and the story of a land as fascinating as it is mysterious.

‘’Children denied their parents and invented new lineages of respectable free settlers to replace the true genealogy of shame. The descendants of the convicts and the blackfellas became service-station attendants or shop assistants or lorry drivers or waitresses or clerks, if they were lucky. No one spoke. No one spoke.’’

My reviews can also be found on: https://theopinionatedreaderblog.wordpress.com/ ( )
  AmaliaGavea | May 31, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Richard Flanaganprimary authorall editionscalculated
Bragg, BillCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Knecht, PeterTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Ochlan, P. J.Narratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Beneath a waterfall on the Franklin, Aljaz Cosini, river guide, lies drowning. Best by visions at once horrible and fabulous, he relives not just his own life but that of his family and forebears.In the rainforest waters that rush over him he sees those lives stripped of their surface realities, and finds a world where dreaming reasserts its power over thinking. As the river rises, his visions grow more turbulent, and in the flood of his past Aljaz discovers the soul history of his country.Richard Flanagan's 1994 debut about a mythical Tasmania dazzled readers around the world, and is now recognised as one of the most powerful and original Australian novels of recent decades.

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