David Malouf- Fly Away Peter

Next week David Malouf will be visiting us in person. This will be a fabulous opportunity to interact with one of the world’s leading authors. He was one of my teachers in my early undergraduate days at Sydney University. I remember him teaching Shakespeare and also contributing his poetry to our Sydney University Literary Club. I am sure you will find him very approachable and hugely knowledgeable about all aspects of the art of writing. Have your questions ready for him for the lecture next week.


Prize Winning novel Fly Away Peter  is one of those extraordinary books that tells a simple story about the time around the First World War that yet has such a deep and powerful meaning for our own times. The slide into war that we have heard our Prime Minister speak of in the last few days must feel to some people like the fear that Malouf describes in his main character Jim Saddler: “He felt panicky. It was as if the ground before him, that had only minutes ago stretched away to a clear future, had suddenly tilted… in the direction of events, and they were all now on a dangerous slope…”


At the same time there are such passages of exquisite beauty in this book recording the passionate appreciation of nature by Jim Saddler and photographer Imogen Harcourt:

….only he and Miss Harcourt might ever know that he too had been in the frame, hidden among those soft rods of light that were grass-stems and the softer sunbursts that were grass-heads or tiny flowers. To the unenlightened eye there was just the central image of the sandpiper with its head attentively cocked. And that was as it should be. It was the sandpiper’s picture.

“Perfect,” he breathed.

“Yes,” she said, “I was pleased too.” (End of Chapter 3)


Blog Topics for Week 8:

1./ Choose a long sentence from Fly Away Peter and discuss how its shape, its form, contribute to its dramatic effect.

2./ Like Jim Saddler we all have a passion for something (landscape, birds, surfing, books, coins…). Write a brief paragraph in which you display your passion for an activity or subject. Use aspects of David Malouf’s style in word choice and sentence structure to convey your passion.

3/ Write a letter from Jim Saddler to Ashley Crowther. Chose any point in the narrative. It could be a thank you for the job as keeper of the Sanctuary, or it could be a thank you for looking after him in Europe up until the moment he got killed on the front.

4/ Create a kit of useful information available on the net on Fly Away Peter.  Try and find reliable, interesting, useful resources.

5/ Create your own topic basing it on your response so far to the writing of David Malouf.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: