Jon Doust’s Return Ticket continues the journey of Jack Muir from a private boarding school in Perth to the New Guinea Highlands and now on board a passenger ship heading for Durban, South Africa.
Jack’s journey is bookmarked by washing up ─ hands thrust into hot water, raw skin, stacking and sorting, cleaning up the mess, and moving on.
It’s a constant metaphor that connects the isolation of Western Australia’s southwest, the racial tension of apartheid South Africa, and the growing pains of the newly created nation of Israel.
Jack Muir is a farmer’s son – a ’48 Drop, they would say in the home paddock. Israel, also born in 1948, is like a brother. And like brothers they bicker, love, weep and make up. On a Kibbutz, Jack finds love, loses love and washes up. He milks cows and finds love again over the kitchen sink. And with a porous border close by, he picks fruit with an M16 slung over his shoulder.
The book opens at home with Jack. He is standing in front of a standard domestic double sink as he leads a Master Class in the art of kitchen organization and hygiene. It closes some years earlier in a house by the sea. Jack is washing the dishes. His dying father waits with a tea towel.
“Why here Dad? Jack asks. You don’t surf, swim, you don’t even walk along the beach. You no longer fish.” Andrew Muir’s answer is the last line in the book and you’ll have to read it to get there.
Join Jack Muir on his journey – it’s a raw, emotional and intriguing.
Mike and Joy Lefroy April 2020