In the end, if someone says, “Here lies Bryce Courtenay, a storyteller,” my life will have been worthwhile.
When he died in 2012, author Bryce Courtenay left a huge hole in the literary landscape. He had written 21 books in 23 years, books which were loved by Australians and around the world, selling millions of copies.
Now an unexpected tribute, in the form of a final book, has been released. The Silver Moon: Reflections on Life, Death and Writing is, as the title suggests, a collection of writing and quotes from Courtenay. Pieces written in the final months of his life are interspersed with quotes from television and press interviews in which he shares his views on life in general and on writing more specifically.
The new pieces include a gorgeous piece about a childhood encounter with a giraffe drinking at a favourite waterhole, and pieces exploring his feelings about his impending death. The whole is gentle, uplifting, and thought provoking, likely to inspire writers and to move Courtenay’s loyal fans.
The Silver Moon: Reflections on Life, Death and Writing, by Bryce Courtenay
Allen & Unwin, 2014
Available from good bookstores and online.
He had given me
the Power of One,
one idea, one heart,
one mind, one plan,
Since it was first published in 1989, The Power of One has been loved by readers young and old. Telling the tale of Peekay, growing up in South Africa during the years of the second world war, in a time of political and social turmoil for the country, and more personal trauma for Peekay. Abandoned in boarding school at the age of five, and much-hated by the older children because he is English rather than Afrikaans, Peekay has to learn to be true to himself. Whilst his childhood is difficult, he makes a series of diverse friends who, together with Peekay’s own courage, set him on a path to success.
Part of the new Australian Children’s Classics series, this edition is abridged so that it covers the first half of Peekay’s story. Older readers will want to seek out the unabridged version, but this version is self-contained and finishes at a naturally satisfying point, providing an excellent introduction to Courtenay’s work for younger readers.
Book Cover: The Power of One: Australian Children’s Classics
The Power of One (Australian Children’s Classics edition), by Bryce Courtenay
Available from good bookstores and online .
Now I prepared a life-size canvas and began to outline in paint her shape, and the slight tilt of her head…It was a winsome look that never failed to touch my heart. I’d felt it perhaps most powerfully the night I walked into the reception area at Raffles and seen her in the black cheongsam seated in a peacock-tail wicker chair…It had been one of the defining moments of my life, a glorious vision I would never forget.
Simon Koo, an Australian-born Chinese, doesn’t need a career. He comes from a wealthy family, and is heir to a business empire founded by his grandfather, who came to Australia during the gold rush. But, heir or not, Simon works in advertising, and when he’s offered a job in Singapore setting up the creative department for an advertising agency. But in mid-sixties Singapore Simon finds life complicated.
Fortune Cookie is the newest offering from great Australian novelist Bryce Courtney. As with earlier books, the research and sense of place is masterful, with the fictional events heavily influenced by the times in which they are set – with the backdrop of Singapore in the sixties proving a fascinating stage. The characters too are intriguing, with Simon supported by a strong cast including the beautiful Mercy B. Lord, the rogue Wing brothers who run the advertising company, and Simon’s mother, Chairman Meow.
Part love story, part mystery and, at times, part comedy, this is an absorbing read.
Fortune Cookie, by Bryce Courtenay
This book can be purchased from good bookstores or online through Fishpond .
Brenda didn’t see the beautiful boy who caused a young woman’s knees to tremble. She didn’t care about the brilliant young sportsman. All Brenda saw was her boy standing in cap and gown in the Great Hall of Sydney University holding a parchment scroll, proving her mum and dad hadn’t left Ireland for nothing and that her family could hold their heads up high. Danny would reach down and pull them all up out of the gutter.
Danny Dunn is the apple of his mother’s eye, and her hope for the future. Danny will do the things that she didn’t do – particularly getting a university degree. For the people of Balmain, Danny offers hope of a different kind – as a sporting hero on the rugby field and in the water polo pool. But when the second World War erupts, Danny is determined to represent his country – whether his mother wants him to or not.
The Story of Danny Dunn is the tale of one man’s war and of his life afterwards, as he tries to fulfil his own dreams, and his mother’s. Danny is a strong man determined to make a difference, but he also lives with the scars of life as a prisoner of war. His family, too, including his parents, his wife and his twin daughters, must also live with his difficult past and with the highs and lows of his determination.
From master storyteller Bryce Courtenay, The Story of Danny Dunn is a saga which offers both an insight into life in the period following World War II and an absorbing story.
The Story of Danny Dunn, by Bryce Courtenay
This book can be purchased online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.