Written in 1961, Kenneth Cook’s deeply unsettling novel Wake In Fright is a cult classic that follows the travails of an urbanite teacher, John, who’s plucked from Sydney to work in a remote Outback school. Attempting to return home for the holidays, he winds up trapped in a desolate mining town when a one-night stay goes disastrously wrong following an ill-advised foray into illegal gambling . With his money gone, John’s mind begins to follow, and the human flotsam who become his new companions are happy to pull him down into a haze of drugs and booze. Cook vividly depicts an Australia that no longer exists, but his protagonist is all-too-relatable, making the complete disintegration of his identity and self-control all the more disturbing.
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