Coming Rain by Stephen Daisley – 2015

coming rainWhat a dismal tale!  Set in the outback of Australia in the 1950’s Coming Rain is the intertwined stories of two itinerant workers, Lew and Painter, and of the trials of a pregnant dingo.  The structure of the novel is lovely – with the tales weaving past each other and occasionally intersecting.  But the remorseless harshness of the landscape and situations, the relentlessly misogynistic and xenophobic language, and the tragedies left in the wake of war and sickness are wearying.  Lew has been travelling with Painter since he was a young kid without shoes, when Painter showed him how to make a pair out of sacking for work in the shearing sheds.  Ever since then they have been together – burning charcoal, shearing, picking up any work going.  The details of their daily routine are meticulously described – with a few too many brand names for me – and a relaxed camaraderie gets them through their many disagreements.  But when they arrive at John Drysdale’s farm to shear and Lew meets Drysdale’s daughter Clara, things start to fall apart.  Daisley has given us a ‘slice of grueling life’ – bleak for both humans and animals, and even bleaker for the previous human inhabitants of the area.  But oddly with all the details provided I felt no sympathy with or understanding of any of the characters, except perhaps the dingo.  Worth a read for the relentlessness of the storytelling.



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