Greater Nowheres

Finkelstein, Dave and Jack London. Greater Nowheres: a Journey Through the Australian Bush.New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1988.

The premise of Greater Nowheres is simple. Dave Finkelstein and Jack London are on the hunt for a mythical yet terrifying and elusive crocodile in the Australian bush. Despite their lackadaisical searching Finkelstein and London never really meet up with the famed creature (sorry to disappoint – Jack sees it but Dave doesn’t). Instead, Greater Nowheres becomes an eye opening account of a region in Western and Northern Australia few have traveled just for the fun of it. Finkelstein and London take turns writing chapters about their adventures and it is interesting to see their differing styles on the page (London is much more descriptive, in case you were wondering). One thing they both comment on is the inhospitable climate of the Australian Bush, a place where temperatures can soar and stay elevated (above 100 degrees) even at 10 o’clock at night. There are two seasons – the Wet and the Dry and both wreak havoc on travelers and residents alike. After awhile you sense a pattern, every place Jack and Dave visit is desolate but fiercely loved by the people who call it home.

As an aside, before I started reading Greater Nowheres I wondered if London’s drinking would play a part in the story. Neither Finkelstein or London shy away from mentioning London’s love of drink, even while in the arid deserts of the outback. Jack makes reference to his hangovers and the local pub being the only place he did his best verbal sparring.

Quotes that stuck with me, “Once again small athletes had come up short, but such narrow mindedness may soon be a prejudice of the past, at least in Australia, where the rapidly proliferating sport of dwarf-throwing is winning fans and enthusiastic devotees” (p 143), “To refer to Wyndham as a dead end is to make it sound a more appealing place than it actually is” (p 172), “We passed through a town called Kumarina without even realizing it” (p 192),

Reason read: Jack London’s birth month is in January.

Author facts: Finkelstein once was a Chinese interpreter and London once was an English professor.

Book trivia: there are no photographs to speak of in Greater Nowheres. Just illustrated maps.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Australia, the Land of Oz” (p 28).

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