Synopses & Reviews
As a boy, Syms Covington was watched over by the beckoning image of Christian, John Bunyan's pilgrim, in the stained-glass window of his Bedford chapel and at thirteen he left home and went to sea with the evangelical sailor John Phipps. Aboard the HMS Beagle
, he entered Darwin's service, an energetic and precocious fifteen-year-old.
In the course of their voyages together over the next seven years, he shot and collected hundreds of specimens for his "gent," specimens that became fundamental to the formulation of Darwin's theory of evolution. Now a crusty, near-deaf man of middle age, Covington has settled in Australia and is awaiting the arrival of the first copy of The Origin of Species. Beset by guilt over participating in a work that will shake the human worldview to its foundations, he nonetheless wonders what part of himself might be reflected in Darwin's oeuvre.
Mr. Darwins' Shooter captures its time with rare skill, evoking an unforgettable but forgotten man at a watershed moment in history.
"Mr. McDonald has given this marginal historical figure a life, and what a life it is." The Wall Street Journal
"Near perfect new novel...a work of distinction...McDonald's language is so marvelously taut, his imagery so fresh...that in reading him, you feel pleasantly acquainted with unselfish poetry." Boston Globe
"A high-spirited, adventuresome, idiosyncratic ramble through the history of science." New York Times
From one of Australias most acclaimed authors, a dazzling and deeply imagined exploration of ambition, natural marvels, and scientific discovery, and one of historys most significant crises of faith. As a boy of thirteen, Syms Covington leaves his home in Bedford and goes to sea, passing into manhood as he sails the world, surveying Patagonia, and losing his virginity in the Pampas. Aboard the HMS Beagle, he enters the service of Charles Darwin as an energetic and precocious fifteen-year-old, and in the course of their voyages together he shoots and collects hundreds of specimens for his gent,” specimens that become fundamental to the formulation of Darwins theory of evolution. Now a crusty, eccentric, near-deaf old man, Covington has settled in Australia and is awaiting the arrival of the first copy of On the Origin of Species. Beset by guilt over participating in a work that will shake the human worldview to its foundations, he nonetheless wonders what part of himself might be reflected in Darwins oeuvre. Mr. Darwins Shooter captures its time with rare and dazzling skill, evoking an unforgettablebut forgottenman at a watershed moment in history.
About the Author
McDonald was born in rural New South Wales in 1941 and eduated at country schools and Sydney. He is the author of poetry, travel writing, essays, and screenplays.