The Boys in the Island

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Francis Cullen, growing up in the island of tasmania, is outwardly a very ordinary boy. But his inner life is dominated by dreams of a place he calls the Otherland: a transfigured world beyond the real one. In childhood, he glimpses it in the landscapes of his native island; and when he falls in love with a country girl, the dream is central to his feelings for her. After Heather is lost to him, Francis comes more and more under the influence of Lewie Matthews - a youth whose ambition is to become a criminal. Now the Otherland's location is seen as the mainland of Australia, where a mythical life of wildness and crime beckons. Francis, Lewie and their friends pursue this life in Melbourne - until a climax of destruction shatters the dream. Christopher Koch's first novel moves always on the level of poetry, resembling in its themes Wordsworth's Intimations of Immortality. It records those visions seen in childhood which in adulthood are lost for ever. 'Holds our sympathies and intrigues, too, by the glimpse of what Australia means to its younger generation.' the times Literary Supplement 'Memorably vivid and moving ...the author has the rare capacity for total recall of childhood imaginings, with all their scope and poignancy. ' the Age 'His style has a compelling urge.' the Scotsman 'the boy's ...fresh openness to experience as he restlessly pursues his dream ...is memorable.' Oxford Companion to Australian Literature