City of Women
"The city of women is love, Billie Shockley says.
"But in the city of women that is her world, love takes strange forms.
"The city is Sydney, from its familiar streets and gardens men have been banished. Their existence still threatens its precincts and Old Man Death moves rapaciously and relentlessly among its citizens.
"Billie observes them - their hedonism, rivalry, passions, cruelty, power, fragility. Reflecting her own anguish at the loss of love and youth, they suffer brutality and decay.
"But, she tells her gentle leopard, she will never admit it's all over.
"City of Women is David Ireland's most recent novel. It follows his highly acclaimed A Woman of the Future, which in 1979 won for him, for the third time, Australia's most prestigious literary prize, the Miles Franklin Award, shared the Age Book of the Year Award for 1980, and has become a best-seller.
"Like A Woman of the Future, City of Women is a daring and challenging work. Once again his bizarre symbolism and uncompromising realism compel the imagination. Arresting, provocative, shocking, droll, yet pierced with a sublime tenderness, it defies simple interpretation and offers rich rewards."
My engineer is lost to me, my whole life gone down the drain. Both engineers; our years together - such happiness, such endless wilful days: the travel, the wanderings, the distant jobs - it seems like another country. She'll never be back.
There was no time factor in our love, no tomorrow, though forever was assumed. And the word 'yesterday' was missing; but that was filed away, in memory.
She worked with me on water management systems, assessing valleys, harbours, catchments, breakwaters, lake capacity, tidal flow, water tables: I was proud of her and all we had in common. Ambitious for her, too. Now she's gone, out on her own: a consultant, being a success. Laughing at me. 'Failure's the last refuge of the meek,' she said. In her eyes, someone no longer working has failed, broken down - but isn't that exactly what I taught her? - and the meek have no shadow.
From the Allen Lane hardback edition, 1981.
This page and its contents are copyright © 1998-2004 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.Return to David Ireland page.
Last modified: December 8, 2004.