To Macauley the child was his 'shiralee' - a burden and a handicap, and also a constant reminder of bitterness and failure. It was in his nature to do things the hard way; the way he saw it, there was no other choice. What he hadn't taken into account was the child's overwhelming need for love. Niland's masterpiece is an outstanding evocation of the Outback and adult-child relationships. First published in 1955, few books have captured the spirit of the Australian bush and its hardy people as vividly and powerfully as this poignant novel.
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D'Arcy Niland (1916-1969) was born in Glen Innes, New South Wales and spent much of his boyhood travelling with his Irish father on the New South Wales shearing circuit. He worked all over Australia in a variety of jobs (opal-miner, circus hand, stevedore, woolshed roustabout) before becoming a writer. He died of a heart attack in 1967 aged only forty-seven. He was married to Ruth Park.From AudioFile:
"Shiralee" is an Australian word for burden. A tough itinerant laborer named Macauley roams Australia's Outback in search of work during the Depression. His burden is Buster, a 4-year-old who may or may not be his daughter. The story moves painfully slowly, sustained only by James Condon's voice and the reader's anticipation of a weighty conclusion. The conclusion turns out to be profoundly simple. Condon's reading, however, is anything but simple. He commands a huge range of characters. Though each is distinctive, they eventually run together, leaving the listener confused yet captivated. The story itself is a metaphor. Listening to it is a burden one finds oddly satisfying in retrospect. D.W.K. (c)AudioFile, Portland, Maine
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Book Description Penguin Australia, 2001. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # P110141186135