Peter Carey Watch #1

Yes, it's Peter Carey all-day, every-day this week. Hardly surprising really, given his two Man Booker prizes, his position as one of the better-known authors in the English-speaking world, and the publication of a new novel. Though I hadn't expected that I would still be posting his bookcovers up till this week, nor that the physical production of the novel would demand a note. The interviews could have been predicted, along with the following reviews, if I'd thought about it long enough. But I didn't.

In case you're wondering what the new Carey novel is all about "The Guardian" had John Crace summarise it for their digested read series.

"The Telegraph" refers to Carey as the "outback Dickens", in John Preston's review of His Illegal Self: "Carey has always been a great Dickens admirer and there are times when his ability to empathise with a small child recalls, and comes close to matching, David Copperfield. There is, however, none of Dickens's sentimentality on show -- this despite Che's relationship with his pet kitten. Instead, Carey manages to get right to the heart of his desperation without it ever feeling forced or cloying."

In "The Guardian", Christopher Tayler isn't as impressed as others with the book: "In practice, though, [the novel's] angles aren't fully explored, and Carey's emotional choreography isn't sure-footed enough to make Che's story live up to its dramatic opening. As you'd expect, he does a good job of creating a lively -- and carefully Americanised -- idiom for his central characters. And having lived in one himself, he clearly knows a lot about alternative communities in Queensland. Yet, coming as it does on the heels of such books as True History of the Kelly Gang, the new novel seems badly paced and weirdly dull."

Dennis Lythgoe in "The Deseret Morning News" out of Salt Lake City tends to agree: "Billed by the publisher as 'the best fictional work to explore the militant radical underground of the late 1960s and early '70s,' it is instead a misguided, failed attempt to either comprehend or explain that period. Some readers are apt to keep reading simply because of curiosity, but continued reading will not satisfy...The novel just doesn't work." I always like it when reviewers make these sort of statements but make no attempt to explain
why. It really leaves me with the sense that it was worth my while reading it.

In other items: Carey goes out to eat. Just thought you'd want to know that he actually does that.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on February 7, 2008 9:41 AM.

Australian Books to Film #40 - Ned Kelly was the previous entry in this blog.

Shortlists for the 2008 Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature is the next entry in this blog.

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