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Questions of Travel

by Daniel Scheffler
Contributor
Saturday May 18, 2013
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The puzzlement of whether one decision, just one, can change your destiny is where the poignant author Michelle de Kretser takes her latest novel, "Questions of Travel."

Introducing two separate stories, the author takes the reader on a possible yacht race, a space ship, a bumblebee piggyback ride, or a flight out over the oceans -- so to speak. And travel in the reader’s mind becomes central to the author’s message: "Where are we and where are we going?" she asks over and over, in the reader’s head. As the questions come, perhaps the answers are now what we’re all looking for one novel, one moment at a time.

As the questions come, perhaps the answers are now what we’re all looking for one novel, one moment at a time.

"Since coming home to Sydney, Laura had holidayed in Cuba, Tasmania, northern Italy. Avoiding London -- London was Theo -- she had met up with Bea in Havana, with Gaby and her children in Venice. These trips, with their satisfactions and disappointments, have been interludes," and so the novel evolves from destinations and moments in travel time. But both satisfy and disappoint, as the characters overindulged in themselves cannot seem to get free, or find answers to the questions that travel, all kinds of travel, have brought them.

The journey for the two characters de Kretser creates incorporates love and loss, bringing in some hysterical travel writing quips and harrowing pain in contrast. The protagonists connect, and disconnect, as the story flows through something we know to be "time," and as they grow and flow into their lives holding out for the discovery of truth. And then with passages like "Antennas were suspended above tiles -- or were they the bones of fish? Clouds parted, and a great rib of light reached into a valley like an illustration from a Bible story," de Kretser shows off her amazing prose.

Born in Sri Lanka, de Kretser now lives in Australia and has written a number of gems including her "The Lost Dog" that made the Man Booker Prize for fiction long list in 2008 and "The Hamilton Case" that won numerous awards including the Tasmania Pacific Prize. Her latest work is beautiful, open and adventurous. Although too long, and in desperate need of a solid edit, her detailed prose is magnificent and becomes a summer beach read, opposed to a modern work of fiction.

by Michelle de Kretser

"Questions of Travel"
Michelle de Kretser
Little, Brown & Company
$26

Based between New York and Cape Town, Daniel Scheffler writes about socio political and travel matters and is working on a memoir. Follow him on Twitter @danielscheffler.

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