"Against the backdrop of Darwin - that small, tropical hothouse of a port, half-outback, half-oriental, lying at the tip of North Australia - a young and newly arrived southerner encounters the 'maestro', a Viennese refugee with a shadowed past. The occasion is a piano lesson, the first of many..."
"The necessary elusiveness of perfection, the umplumbed ocean beneath articulateness, the ambivalence of beauty - these are the revolving concerns of Peter Goldsworthy, and handled not just with irony but with an effervescent, compassionate wit. He can't help being funny, but he's wise too." - Gerard Windsor, Australian Book Review
"A profound exploration of European exile and Australian adolescence...beautifully constructed, elegantly performed, deeply moving" - Caryl Phillips
"I enjoyed Maestro enormously. Besides its thoughtfulness and bright sensuality, it has a playful quality, a love of jest, which appealed to me very much." - Helen Garner, Sydney Review
"A beautifully crafted novel dealing with the tragic gulf between talent and genius; between the real and the spurious." - C.J. Koch
About the Author:
Peter Goldsworthy was born in Minlaton, South Australia, in 1951. He grew up in various country towns, finishing his schooling in Darwin. Since graduating in medicine from the University of Adelaide, he has devoted his time equally to medicine and writing. He is married to a fellow graduate and they have three children.
Peter Goldsworthy has published three collections of poetry, including This Goes With That: Selected Poems 1970-1990. He is the author of four collections of short fiction, including Little Deaths, and four novels, including Honk if You Are Jesus and Wish. He has won numerous awards including the Commonwealth Poetry Prize and an Australian Bicentennial Literary Award.
Misleading, of course. As always. But unforgettable: the red glow of his face - a boozer's incandescent glow. The pitted, sun-coarsened skin - a cheap, ruined leather. And the eyes: an old man's moist, wobbling jellies.
But then ... the suit: white linen, freshly pressed. And - absurdly, in that climate - the stiff collar and tie.
I stood behind my mother outside his room at the Swan, perched on a wooden balcony overlooking the beer garden. The hotel - a warren of crumbling weatherboard, overgrown with bougainvillea - was packed, the drinkers and their noise spilling out of the front bar into the garden. Up the stairs, second on the right, a barman had shouted - and every face in the bar had turned and followed us up. One or two drunken whistles had also followed us up; whistles living far beyond their sexual means, my mother later reported to my father, contemptuously.
'This is Paul,' she said, pushing me forward, ignoring the noise below.
The figure in the white suit stood aside from his doorway, and motioned us inside.
'Of course. Your father has told.'
The accent was thick. Continental, my father had described it, vaguely. A voice that reminded him of grilling sausages: a faint, constant spitting of sibilants in the background.
'Sit down,' the voice hissed. 'We will talk.'
A problem: how to capture that accent here? Ve vill talk? It's tempting - too tempting - to slip into comic-book parody. We haf ways off makink ...
From the Angus and Robertson paperback edition, 1997.
This novel was shortlisted for the 1990 Miles Franklin Award.
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Last modified: December 10, 2004.