As my childhood memories become foggier and less reliable, there are several book moments that stand out from the murk.
The moment I discovered Herge’s The Red Sea Sharks (a graphic novel in a small rural library!) was like tripping over a gold nugget. The thrall induced by JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy was such that I would climb high into a tree where I could read without interruption by younger siblings. Ian Fleming’s James Bond series was great fun. And John Wyndham’s novels (such as The Midwich Cuckoos & The Chrysalids) struck a chord that still resounds today.
But the book that shines brightest is Ivan Southall’s To The Wild Sky. This was a proudly Australian story and the first novel to utterly confound me by denying the usual happy-ever-after. The 11-year-old me was so gobsmacked that I wrote to the author seeking answers.
Ivan replied with a beautiful letter putting the onus on my imagination to complete the tale. That was the moment I first understood the magic an author has in their hands.
Many years later I met Ivan and he presented me with the sequel he’d reluctantly written for To The Wild Sky. I read it eagerly, feeling 11 all over again. And I laughed. The conclusion of A City Out of Sight is even more audacious than that of the prequel. I like that a lot.