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Stop Making Sense

I read anything that's nailed down, or even just moving slowly. Cereal boxes, candy wrappers, all genres, etc., and I don't always have much time for arbitrary distinctions like literary fiction vs. genre fiction.

The Untold - Courtney Collins


This is the fictionalized story of Jessie Hickman/Henry/Bell/Hunt/Payne, a horse rustler in 1840s Australia, a wild and harsh place. When the book opens, Jessie has just killed someone and is on the run (again). The book tells the story of her journey toward the wilderness mountains, where she figures she can disappear. In the meantime, two men are chasing her, and they won't give up.

The book is beautifully written, and it has an interesting style of detached, almost dreamy language describing extremely harsh, violent settings and events. The lack of dialog tags (all dialog is in italics) helps with the stream-of-consciousness feel to the writing, but not in an overbearing way. I can see where it might get confusing at times, but I didn't have any trouble following it. I *will* say that the preface didn't become clear to me until an embarassingly long time after I'd finished the last page. Dur.

Gotta be honest, though--I almost threw up (and threw the book down) when I got to page 9, and I'm no lightweight. It's brutal, seriously.

[In the opening chapter (after the preface), Jessie goes into labor 2 months early, just after she's killed someone and needs to get away immediately. The baby is in trouble, but Jessie can't produce milk or help the baby breathe, so Jessie digs a grave, slits the baby's throat, buries her, and goes on her way. The rest of the book is then told mostly from the buried baby's perspective, which was really hard to take in places (the author does slip into limited third-person here and there).]

(show spoiler)

I would recommend this book to people who like stories about outlaws, rustlers, the Australian Outback, and survival. I would NOT recommend this book to people sensitive to violence.