I read the The Lucky Galah by Tracy Sorenson as part of an August reading challenge on Good Reads. I particularly want to read more Australia female authors. Because I love galahs, this was an obvious choice for me.
It was an endearing little story. The characters were all pretty well developed and unique – very Australian. The landscape was also very vividly described. The narrator was this intelligent pet galah who was very frustrated with her inability to communicate. This story is supposed to be the main story she wants to be able to express, but this doesn’t seem to be enough motivation for the main character to keep me really keen on this story.
Unfortunately, I think there are problems with this story which stop it from being great. But it is difficult to articulate. The writing was good, the characters were good, and it was a very interesting premise.
The story jumps back and forward in time a bit, between the year 2000 and the 1969 moon landing. The premise is that wild galahs tuned the big Dish that was used in Western Australia to communicate with the Apollo missions on this side of the globe. Because the galahs tuned it, our Lucky picked up parts of people’s stories and thoughts through the Dish.
It’s 1969 and a remote coastal town in Western Australia is poised to play a pivotal part in the moon landing. Perched on the red dunes of its outskirts looms the great Dish: a relay for messages between Apollo 11 and Houston, Texas.
Radar technician Evan Johnson and his colleagues stare, transfixed, at the moving images on the console -although his glossy young wife, Linda, seems distracted. Meanwhile the people of Port Badminton have gathered to watch Armstrong’s small step on a single television sitting centre stage in the old theatre. The Kelly family, a crop of redheads, sit in rare silence. Roo shooters at the back of the hall squint through their rifles to see the tiny screen.
I’m in my cage on the Kelly’s back verandah. I sit here, unheard, underestimated, biscuit crumbs on my beak. But fate is a curious thing. For just as Evan Johnson’s story is about to end (and perhaps with a giant leap), my story prepares to take flight…
I don’t know how the Dish downloaded people’s thoughts to give to Lucky.
Lucky had pieced together this story, based on parts that she had seen herself, and what she had overheard from others, and what the Dish told her. The blurb says that the story is about fate – the fate of the individual human lives that surrounded Lucky. If it was supposed to take on a broader metaphor for the fate of humans, I didn’t get it …
The novel was certainly a glimpse into immigrants in Australia after WWII, class in Australia in the 1960s (gossip and scandal), belonging and not fitting in, and it plays heavily on stereotypes. I think a lot of things were skimmed, but the novel was too light-hearted and a bit humorous to be a deep study into any of these themes.
Overall, I wouldn’t recommend it, but I certainly would dissuade people from reading it. The pace is great, and the language is easy. It is probably a good, light summer’s read with a different twist from the usual ‘chick-lit’.
But by reading this, I got the powers of Wonder Woman for August in this challenge, so that makes me very pleased!