'Once prosperous, the town of Tourmaline in outback Western Australia is dying. The mines are drying up and the land is riddled by drought. Those townspeople left have little to do but wile away the hours with drink.
'Salvation of sorts arrives in the form of Michael Random, a mysterious water diviner who emerges from the desert. As the town's reluctant messiah Random begins to spread the word of Christ. Desperate for a reprieve, many of the locals are drawn to his teachings, but a stubborn few remain sceptical of their new leader.
'A post-apocalyptic parable, Tourmaline is Randolph Stow's most allusive and controversial novel. It remains a landmark in Australian literature more than half a century after its first publication.'
Source: Publisher's blurb (Text Classics).
'The essay explores ideas about groundwater in terms of its characteristics as a hyperobject. Key hydrogeology concepts and the conflicts and dilemmas in uses and abuses of groundwater in Australia underpin a search for the metaphorical potency of groundwater. Literature uncovers how allegorical tones of groundwater may be expressed.' (Publication abstract)
'Unlike many city-dwelling Australians, the desert holds no terrors for me. Instead, like DH Lawrence, I find the cathedral forests of the coastal regions oppressive and disquieting. Lawrence brought to his descriptions of the Australian bush the same overwrought sensitivity that created the claustrophobic emotional landscape of 'Sons and Lovers', and the appalling, majestic insularity of the Italian mountain village in 'The Lost Girl'. He was the writer who made explicit the sense of some non-human presence in the Antipodean landscape, and while I have a different interpretation of the 'speechless, aimless solitariness' he attributes to the country, his instincts were good.' (Publication abstract)
'The novels I shall concentrate on in discussing messiahs and millennia in Stow's work are To the Islands, Tourmaline, Visitants, and The Girl Green as Elderflower. Tourmaline and Visitants are the two which most clearly relate to millenarian themes. Tourmaline records the growth, and collapse, of a millenarian cult centred on the messianic or would-be messianic figure of the diviner Michael Random. Visitants is a structurally more complex exploration of three millenarian visions and their communal and personal repercussions, although the connotations of the title are not restricted to cargo or flying saucer cults.' (Publication abstract)