Andrew Nette reviews 'Fear Is the Rider' by Kenneth Cook

Andrew Nette reviews 'Fear Is the Rider' by Kenneth Cook

Fear Is the Rider

by Kenneth Cook

Text Publishing, $19.99 pb, 196 pp, 9781925240856

There is something alluring about the publication of a lost or unknown literary manuscript. How will it fit into the author's body of work? Is it inferior to or better than the published work? Does it illuminate a hitherto unknown aspect of the author's thinking, or make you re-examine the known sequencing or themes? These questions were on my mind as I read Fear Is the Rider, a previously unpublished manuscript by Kenneth Cook, completed in the early 1980s and published for the first time by Text Publishing.

Cook is best known for his 1961 début novel, Wake In Fright (reissued by Text Publishing in 2001), a brutal depiction of drinking and masculinity in Australia's outback. On the strength of this work alone, Cook is regarded as one of the foremost exponents of the small but vibrant body of Australian 'gothic' literature, which, from the nineteenth century to the present, has focused on white Australia's alienated relationship with our harsher regions. Wake In Fright's popular status has much to do with Canadian director Ted Kotcheff's influential 1971 film of the same name.

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Published in March 2016, no. 379
Andrew Nette

Andrew Nette

Andrew Nette is a Melbourne crime writer and freelance journalist. His first novel, Ghost Money, was published in 2012. He is co-editor of Beat Girls, Love Tribes and Real Cool Cats: Pulp Fiction and Youth Culture, from the 1950s to 1980s, forthcoming from Verse Chorus Press in 2015.