THE BOOK OF MILES book cover   The Book of Miles
David Astle

Dustjacket synopsis:

"Sit down and let me light my pipe, I have a murder story to tell. Here in the heart of Tallangatta, a killing so callous that tongues still wag. But listen to me, my tongue - it knows the truth, or leastways tells the story bloody well.

"When Jack Noonan and his wife Isabelle flee the mines of Cornwall for Australia, they come expecting the land of plenty. Rabbits and politicians are what they find instead, in a country where nature flouts the best endeavours.

"Jack survives as a trapper, and lures human prey with his knack for telling stories. Even his son Miles is caught by his fabulous yarn-spinning - until enough is enough and the unravelling begins.

"The Book of Miles is a mischievous, God-mocking, rhapsodical novel about the struggle of a man and a nation to stand on their own."

About the Author:

David Astle was born in Sydney in 1961 and now lives in Melbourne. His first novel, Marzipan Plan, was published in 1986 and shortlisted for the Miles Franklin award. He is the author of numerous short stories and poems and the creator of cryptic crosswords for several newspapers. He is married with one son.

First Paragraph:

If the man were a smoker, now would be the time - drawing on the shag his father used to worship, watching the trucks hustle the Hume from Melbourne to Sydney, Sydney to Melbourne - but he wasn't. Crossing his arms he let the Holden do the smoking for him. The radiator was buggered.

He studied the sky. Steam climbed like the tree he stood beside: the Sickle Tree, a seven-storey eucalypt that God or man had kinked to resemble a question mark. Families on the way to elsewhere pulled off the highway to pose before the trunk. 'Mum, Dad, Sally, Mark, Kelly, Sickle Tree, near Wangaratta, 1970.' So would read the album, he guessed as he took the shot for them, the favour's reward the time soaked up waiting for the Holden to cool.

'You wanna lift to somewhere?' the different dads would ask.

No, thanking them all the same. He could afford the time. The car had done this before and time was not the issue here. Besides, he was bound for another place. Not Sydney, not Melbourne, but a world in between.

From the Minerva paperback edition, 1997.

This page and its contents are copyright © 2001 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

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Last modified: November 14, 2001.