Book: Mutant Message from Down Under
Author: Marlo Morgan
Publisher: Harper Collins
If you haven't heard about Mutant Message from Down Under or the controversy surrounding it, you are in for a shock. At least, I was shocked when I did a little bit of research on this poorly written pile of junk.
It began with finding a used copy of this book in its first incarnation, a privately published, poorly illustrated account of a woman's experience living with Australian Aborigines. It claimed to be about a spiritual journey. It claimed to contain an important message for mankind. If this is an important message to mankind, I think I'll lie down and shoot myself now.
The book was a quick read about the experience Ms. Morgan claimed to have had living for four months with a tribe of Aboriginals called the "Real People." She travels barefoot and hatless through the Australian desert while experiencing a personal epiphany as the tribe members teach her about the ills of western society. Yes, you did read that right. Four months in the desert. No hat. No shoes. Pale skinned white woman. Does anyone see a problem here, yet?
If not, maybe you'll see a problem in her description of Aboriginal life, which includes such fascinating things as making dream catchers, tribe members having names like "Female Healer," and communicating primarily through telepathy. Sound like a sick twisted description of a white woman's perception of Native Americans? That's pretty much what it is.
Because you see, we don't know if Ms. Morgan actually ever set foot in Australia, because her description of that country is so ridiculously wrong. In her version of Australia, people use quarters to make phone calls (Aussies don't even have a 25 cent piece... and they sure as hell don't call any of their coins quarters) and Australians didn't know what fly screens for windows were until she introduced them to the country in 1986. So, since she had no idea what Australian Aboriginal culture was like, she just kinda...made it up.
Making things up is okay, especially when you are writing fiction. But from the start, Ms. Morgan claimed that what she was writing was emphatically not fiction. In fact, she claimed to be the appointed spokesperson for Australian Aboriginals. Her little privately-published heap of twaddle was picked up by Harper Collins and became a best seller everywhere -- except in Australia...fancy that. And Ms. M began the lecture circuit as the "spokesperson" for Aboriginal concerns.
Australian Aboriginal groups have been protesting the book since it was first published. Because despite the book now being classified as fiction by Harper Collins, and despite the general outcry from Aboriginal leaders amid demands for her to stop calling herself their "spokesperson," this presumptuous, ridiculous woman still claims that the events did indeed happen. (Never mind that not one Aboriginal group in Australia will admit to even meeting her.)
So, what attracts people to this book? Is it the writing style of the author, the riveting tale she tells, the message that her book provides? None of the above, thanks. Ms. Morgan has the writing skill of a stoned 16 year old. Her book consists of incredibly simple sentences and the charming habit of writing the dialog of the "Real People" in ALL CAPITAL LETTERS. Who needs quotation marks when you have the SHIFT key on your keyboard? Not Ms. Morgan.
If you can get around the completely stupid details that she throws in to, I assume, give her story veracity (stating that her feet became "hoof-like" from walking in the desert, describing being buried in sand to rid her of personal body odor, claiming that a flood that roared across the desert made her lose all of the items she gained during her journey) you are still stuck with a stereotypical tale of "white woman learning native ways" told in a charmless manner. With completely weird claims about Aboriginal peoples thrown in for good measure (they speak telepathically, can heal broken bones in one day with their minds, and are hiding an intricate cavern filled with ritual items somewhere in the desert).
And as for the message, well, I can sum up the message: "Western society bad, living communally good. White men's ways are not the right way. Stop hurting our planet." Truly, an eye opening statement for the masses. It's been said before, with more heart, more insight, and without the intention of stealing a group's culture for profit and fame.
You'll notice that this review doesn't have an Amazon link to the book. That's because I would hate myself if I helped anyone to hand her money by purchasing a copy of this book. If you must read this terrible excuse for a book, please buy it second hand.
If you want more information on the inaccuracies of the book, or the attempts by Aboriginal leaders to prevent Marlo Morgan from further robbing them of their culture, follow the links below:
Morgan's Mutant Fantasy
Dumbartung Aboriginal Corporation's report on Mutant Message
Leatherwood Trail's Mutant Message Page