THE TRAVELLING ENTERTAINER book cover   The Travelling Entertainer
Elizabeth Jolley

Cover etching: Doomed in Advance by Ray Beattie.

Elizabeth Jolley "is a champion of droll comedy; her wry, sardonic voice is sheer delight ... Jolley writes of quietly eccentric people, people up against adversity. She writes with great fluidity, with an eye toward entertaining her readers" - Booklist (U.S.A.)
"The Travelling Entertainer shows Elizabeth Jolley preoccupied with various kinds of darkness. Her characters, ordinary people living unexceptional lives in hospitals, in the suburbs and in the bush, stumble through their experiences, struggling to piece together meanings from daily life. But it is Elizabeth Joiley's great power and originality as a writer, the ability to render a world of depression and despair with enormous sensitivity and a kind of whimsical charm, that makes The Travelling Entertainer such an exhilarating collection of stories... In Jolley's often macabre fictional territory people hover like shadows at the edge of a dream. Her characters talk in the echoing aftershocks of smashed lives. They struggle to find moments of meaning and tenderness in lives diminished by loneliness, defeat, despair" - Rod Jones, Washington Post

The Performance
Winter Nelis
The Outworks of the Kingdom
The Agent in Travelling
The Long Distant Lecture
The Fellow Passenger
Mr Parker's Valentine
A New World
The Travelling Entertainer

First Paragraph from the Title Story:

Everything was so wet after the rain. Drops of water quivered like spangles on the wire fences and hung from leaves and flowers, tremulous, ready to fall in a glittering shower at the slightest movement.

Morris Bemard, as usual, drove his wife to the university. The road, fringed with shivering nodding grasses, followed the curve of the river; and across the wide water the city lay in repose as if painted on a pale curtain. It had a quality of unreality as if no life could unfold there behind the shreds of blue mist.

Morris Bemard stopped the car and eased himself out. He walked round crushing eucalyptus leaves into the damp earth and, in the hovering fragrance, he opened the car door for his wife. The rain bird called, little phrases of bird notes climbing up in among flame tree flowers, brilliant against the dark clouds and the thin narrow leaves of the eucalypts trembled.

Morris looked at the river as he waited by the car door. The water was purple-brown with top soil washed from the vineyards further up the valley. It was the time for black cockatoos. They flew now in formation low across the choppy tumult of the river in flood.

From the Fremantle Arts Centre Press paperback edition, 1989.

This page and its contents are copyright © 2002 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

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Last modified: January 12, 2002.