Review snippets

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And I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it. Really couldn’t put it down. It wasn’t the story of my life, but I wished, sort of, that it could have been!

The novel revolves around everything that happens to Jack while in Israel living on a kibbutz, even when he’s here and not there.Strong characters. War times. Rugged scenery. Beautiful women. One of whom Jack falls in love with. And so on.To tell more of the plot would not be right. It is such a lovely story, and such a good read, you must discover it all for yourself. Tough, tender, and instructive.There is also humour in this book, LOL stuff at times.There is real emotion too, as a slightly lost lad discovers what he’s either lost or looking for.The writing is superbly sparse. It reflects the well-chosen cover photograph, a shot by Kolderal entitled ‘Man watching sunset above desert landscape’.

By Michael Barker
 in Life, Law & Culture

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The Sydney Morning Herald

Fiction reviewer Cameron Woodhead and non-fiction reviewer Steven Carroll each have four new titles for you to explore, including their picks of the week.

Return Ticket
John Doust
Fremantle Press, $29.99

Return Ticket is the third book from the Western Australian author to feature Jack Muir, first introduced in the semi-autobiographical boarding school novel, Boy On A Wire. Jack appears this time as an old man, with the narrative revealing his years of travel, misadventure and romance as a younger one. It begins with the protagonist washing dishes, which he does with a peculiar intensity, and proceeds to unfold in short chapters a story that takes us from Perth to South Africa under apartheid in the 1970s and then to an Israeli kibbutz where he meets his future wife. It’s vivid and episodic, memoir-like fiction, refreshingly free of pretension, that brings together the sharp observational style of the best travel-writing and the clipped voice of a character who’s repeated more than a few years at the school of hard knocks.

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Through it all, Doust flexes a remarkably matter-of-fact delivery: ‘He was as happy as a man could expect given he’d gone through a relationship collapse, the tail end of a war, a couple of beatings, car accidents and another period of depression.’ Against that ever-shifting backdrop of war—and more intimate turmoil—Jack soaks up enough bracing experience for many lifetimes over, and it’s to Doust’s credit that it all rings true.

Reviewed by Doug Wallen, a freelance journalist, copywriter and editor

ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

I’ve read a good many books set in oppressive regimes, from the USSR to China, but I don’t think I’ve read one before where the protagonist has such a profound distaste for a western capitalist state that he could not abide living in it.  He loathes the unfairness of the system, and is burdened by guilt because he is a beneficiary of it.  At the same time, he is also seeking love and contentment, and he takes the loss of the child he never knew very much to heart.  Friends he meets lighten his journey, and these vignettes show that his capacity to value people for who they are and not what they represent, is the key to him becoming a better man, a good father and a loyal friend.

An unforgettable book.

Reviewed by Lisa Hill, a keen reader who lives in Melbourne, Victoria.  Her natural habitat is a library.

ANZ LitLovers

Queensland Reviewers Collective

The title of the trilogy – One Boy’s Journey to Man – is a clear indication of where this book is heading. How it gets there – or more accurately how Jack gets there – is beautifully realised in this narrative about how the persons we love and who love us can steer us towards a better life. Jack does not gloss over the more unsavoury aspects of his life – he readily acknowledges his mistakes and his bad behaviour – but he also acknowledges his better moments.

It may be tempting to presume that the novel is a thinly disguised autobiography as the author’s own story is similar to Jack’s. That, however, may be jumping to a conclusion too far and it is better I think for the reader to appreciate the novel as it is
presented.
Return Ticket is well worth the reading and it is highly recommended.

Reviewed by Rod McLary

Queensland Reviewers Collective

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