Rifling Paradise by Jem Poster - review by James Fleming

James Fleming

Missing the Mark

Rifling Paradise

By

Sceptre 324pp £16.99
 

Topsell’s Historie of Foure-footed Beasts was among the most popular books of the seventeenth century and much used by Shakespeare. A Natural History of Selborne has been in print since 1788. On the Origin of Species was sold out on publication day. Tarka the Otter, Watership Down, endless television programmes – the evidence is solid: nature sells.

So when we learn that Redbourne, the narrator of this book, is to make a naturalising expedition to Australia (date not found: circa 1890), our hopes are high. And can we be blamed if the magical memory of Voss drifts towards us?

The story opens firmly: Redbourne, a middle-aged homosexual with a weak jaw line, is knocked about one night by a local gang for having tampered with Daniel, a lad who’s just committed suicide. He decides to absent himself. He’s from a good family but short of money. An uncle gives

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