Kenneth Cook

Kenneth Cook

Sydney, New South Wales

Kenneth Bernard Cook was an Australian journalist, television documentary maker, and novelist best known for his works Wake in Fright, which is still in print five decades after its first publication, and the humorous Killer Koala trilogy.

Mystery, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Suspense, Thriller & Suspense

Fear Is the Rider

t was quite silent in the scrub. No breeze stirred the leaves and no bird moved, except for the kite hawks wheeling silently, eternally, high in the hot air. She smelt her attacker before she saw him. A heavy stench hit her with such force that she started with shock. It was a smell she’d never encountered before. Not man, not animal, something like carrion, but alive. It seemed to envelop and suffocate her, then became tangible as two arms wrapped around her body and began tearing at her clothing. A young man driving from Sydney to Adelaide for work decides to take a short detour into the desert. He turns his hatchback on to a notoriously dangerous track that bisects uninhabited stone-covered flats. Out there, under the baking sun, people can die within hours. He’s not far along the road when a distraught young woman stumbles from the scrub and flags him down. A journalist from Sydney, she has just escaped the clutches of an inexplicable, terrifying creature. Now this desert-dwelling creature has her jeep. Her axe. And her scent… From the author of the classic novel Wake In Fright comes a chillingly brilliant short novel that’s part Wolf Creek and part Duel. Fear Is the Rider is a nail-biting chase into the outback, towards the devil lurking at its centre. Wake In Fright was made into an internationally acclaimed film. Fear Is the Rider is a previously unpublished manuscript from the 1980s that was recently rediscovered among Kenneth Cook’s papers. Kenneth Cook was born in Sydney. Wake In Fright, which drew on his time as a journalist in Broken Hill, was first published in 1961 when Cook was 32. It was published in England and America, translated into several languages, and was a prescribed text in schools. Cook wrote twenty-two books in a variety of genres, and was well known in film circles as a scriptwriter and independent film-maker. He died in 1987. ‘Fantastic, breath-taking, edge of the seat stuff.’ Col’s Criminal Library ‘This lost Ozploitation gem is pure horror adrenaline, as characters and reader alike are hunted by a relentless golem—the nightmare outback monster we've always feared.’ Chris Flynn, author of A Tiger in Eden and The Glass Kingdom ‘The moment to moment effect of reading Fear Is the Rider is one of gasping attentiveness to the urgent needs of the present...There is special, pulpy kind of genius to the kind of book that almost swipes ahead for us, like a concert pianist’s assistant.’ Australian ‘Another great retro thriller. Treat it like going to a movie, because it will only take you a couple of hours to power through it...It’s just pure adrenaline and survival.’ Herald Sun ‘A suspense packed ride until the final page.’ QANTAS Magazine ‘Possibly the scariest, most spine-chilling and nerve-wracking book I’ve read. Ever...It’s incredibly filmic—think Wolf Creek meets Mad Max—and so visceral I could feel my heart rising up in my throat as I turned the pages.’ Reading Matters ‘A schlocky, old-school thriller in the best possible way...A kind of literary Mad Max, a master class in Ozploitation, or simply as a short, sharp burst of literary adrenaline, Fear is the Rider is a hell of a lot of fun.’ Readings ‘[A] short but powerful novel, Cook takes the reader on an action-packed, tension-filled ride...Definitely a page-turner.’ BookMooch

Wake In Fright: Text Classics

Wake in Fright tells the tale of John Grant's journey into an alcoholic, sexual and spiritual nightmare. It is the original and the greatest outback horror story. Bundanyabba and its citizens will forever haunt its readers. This edition includes an introduction by Peter Temple and an afterword by David Stratton. Wake in Fright was made into a film in 1971, arguably the greatest film ever made in Australia. It starred Donald Pleasence, Chips Rafferty, and Jack Thompson in his first screen role. Lost for many years, the restored film was re-released to acclaim in 2009. Kenneth Cook was born in Sydney in 1929. Wake in Fright was published in 1961 to high praise in New York and London, and launched Cook's writing career. Cook wrote twenty-one books in all, along with screenplays and scripts for radio and TV. Peter Temple is one of Australia's finest writers. His novel Truth won the 2010 Miles Franklin Award and the Victorian Premier's Literary Award. Temple has written nine novels and has been published in more than twenty countries. David Stratton is co-presenter of At the Movies on ABC television and film critic for the Australian. He has also served as a President of the International Critics Jury for the Cannes and Venice Film Festivals, written three books and is currently lecturing in Film History at the University of Sydney. textclassics.com.au 'It might be fifty years since the novel appeared yet it retains its freshness, its narrative still compels, and its bleak vision still disquiets...Cook can make us feel the heat, see the endless horizon, hear the sad singing on a little train as it traverses the monotonous plain.' Peter Temple, from the Introduction 'Wake in Fright deserves its status as a modern classic. Cook's prose is masterful and the story is gripping from the first page to the last.' M. J. Hyland 'A classic novel which became a classic film. The Outback without the sentimental bulldust. Australia without the sugar coating.' Robert Drewe 'Wake in Fright is a classic of the ugly side of Menzies' Australia, its brutality, its drunkenness, its anxiety to crush all sensibility. All of this is harrowingly reacorded - the destruction of a young soul fresh to Australia - in Kenneth Cook's remarkable novel.' Thomas Keneally 'A true dark classic of Australian literature.' J. M. Coetzee '...a kind of outback Lord of the Flies...Written entirely from Grant's point of view, the prose is at first straightforward, the landscape and its people evoked simply and vividly. But later, as Grant descends into his own personal hell and finally to the depths of despair, the writing takes on the quality of a delirious dream. The concluding narrative twists will rock both Grant (and the reader) back on their heels.' Crime Time UK

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