Combined Reviews: A Private Man by Malcolm Knox

private_man.jpg Reviews of A Private Man by Malcolm Knox.

This book has been nominated for the 2006 IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. It also won the award for Best First Novel at the 2005 Ned Kelly Awards.

Description: "It is two days since Dr John Brand's death and his eldest son, Davis, suspects a cover-up. 'Survived by two sons', the death notice said. 'Peacefully.' But someone has lied: there are three sons, and the circumstances of their father's death are murky. Still, the Sydney Test Match is on and Davis's famous brother Chris is batting to save his career while their mother Margaret watches the broadcast from her armchair. Hammett, the unacknowledged third brother, lurks on the edges, banished but not forgotten. Scattered over Sydney, the Brand's lives - and John Brand's funeral - are put on hold for the duration of the game: five days of suspense, silences, revelations, recriminations and redemption."

Most of the reviews of this novel concentrate on the sporting and porn aspects, and not from a salacious point-of-view. On the contrary, the reviewers go to some pains to praise Knox for his use of the two subject lines. In "Australian Book Review", José Borghino goes so far as to say: "Gabriel Garcia Márquez once said that all of us lead three different lives simultaneously: public, private and secret. In his second novel, A Private Man, Malcolm Knox explores two very secret recesses of the modern Australian male's perspective: porn and sport. That both these spheres also have a very public face merely allows for these secret experiences to be played out in front of a paying audience as either tragedy or farce, or sometimes both." Which pretty much covers it. Borghino goes further by stating: "There are echoes of Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections in the structure and familial focus of the book -- and I mean that in the most complimentary way. Chapters weave back and forth in time and take the point of view of first one then another of the main characters. The result is that, with each new chapter, we see different sides of each player. Our sympathies grow and ebb, and each character's personality seems much more rounded and believable as a consequence."

Michael Jacobs, in the "Adelaide Review" concurs: "It is a fine piece of writing, well-structured, subtle and sensitive. When I had finished the first read, I rather wished the author had not tied up so many loose ends in a final rush. I still think it is a pity that so much is disposed of so neatly, but on reflection there is enough left unresolved for the reader to have things to wonder about. Outside Hollywood, that is the mark of a good piece of work."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on January 6, 2006 3:41 PM.

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