A fascinating book about the “Songlines”, which the Australian Aboriginals used to find their way around the Outback.
The first two thirds of the book is classic travellogue as Bruce Chatwin explores around the Australian centre. The songlines of the title criss cross the Australian continent, a lot of the Aboriginal culture is secret to the outsider, and one wonders how truthful the aborigines he talks to are: “What’s that over there? That landmass?” Bruce Chatwin asks his guide. “That’s Shit. That’s Shit Dreaming,” the guide replies and breaks into hysterical laughter.”
Then the book strangely goes walkabout and becomes a copy of Chatwin’s notebook with miscellaneous quotes and thoughts relating to evolution and nomadic existence.
Chatwin extols the virtues of his Moleskine notebooks, and his disappointment when the supplier dies and his French stationer tells him ‘Le vrai moleskine n’est plus.’” I was inspired to get my own Moleskine (the brand has been revived).
Chatwin shares with us lots of reflections on walking, travelling, singing, the origins of man and evolution.
Chatwin was in Australia researching his book in 1984, I was in the red centre of Australia four years later in 1988, reading this brings back memories of that time. I was there at an unusual time when the usually dry Todd River was in full spate.
My rating 4 out of 5