by Lyndon Patrick Berchy
The Flight of Kurrawurra is an epic novel combining straight autobiography with memoir, travel writing, spiritual awakening and theology.
Let me be clear; large parts of The Flight of Kurrawurra are 4* but it is an incredibly long novel and the last quarter does become heavily concerned with born-again Christianity which is deeply subjective. If you are a born-again Christian, I have no doubt that you would award The Flight of Kurrawurra 5* but as a Reviewer, I have to maintain a degree of objectivity.
Mr Berchy is a very likeable man who has lived an unusual life and has a great many stories to tell, and he tells them well. We begin in India where Lyndon is born into a large Anglo-Indian family; its deeply interesting and absorbing written in a conversational and engaging style. Tales of his childhood, his family and Anglo-Indian culture were fascinating and I struggled to put the book down. Likewise, when Lyndon moves to Australia, the country that he views as home and feels most connected to. His time spent in the mining community and the Outback is wonderfully realised, it's honest, authentic and very funny in places. Lyndon’s love for the Aboriginal people shines through together with his charisma and general bonhomie. When he moves to Holland with his first wife, the narrative becomes a little darker. It’s not a good time in his life and the raw nature of the writing consequently reflects this.
The strongest elements of The Flight of Kurrawurra are the travel memoirs; Lyndon has a real gift for bringing places and people brilliantly to life. He encounters some wonderful characters and involves himself in some quite extraordinary situations. While traversing the globe, he does also undertake a spiritual journey/awakening and this works nicely in tandem up until last part when he walks ‘The Jesus Trail’ through Israel. The tone and content changes quite significantly and I thought this religious journey would have worked better as a separate book. Although he still meets a varied and colourful selection of people in Israel, it began to feel more like a pilgrimage novel and does become quite engrossed in Scripture. Personally, I would have liked to have learned more about his family at this stage; we do not get to know too much following his time in the Netherlands. I do think the book could have done with a sharper edit; there is repetition and a lack of structure in places and also quite a lot of hyperbole which complements Lyndon’s personality but does make for a substantial read.
However, there is much to enjoy; this is a unique and immersive read that has definite appeal.