Peter Carey Watch #3


ABC TV's Kerry O'Brien, from the "7.30 Report", interviewed Carey on 4th March. The video of the interview, plus a full transcipt, are available. Carey seemed to be in a very happy place - serious (as he usually is), but much more amused by life than I had seen him for a while.

"The Guardian" books page has an audio podcast of Carey reading from and talking about his new novel.

"The Sunday Herald", out of Scotland, has an interview with the author, conducted by Alan Taylor.

His mother was the daughter of a country teacher and his father, having left school at an early age, was determined to do the best by his son. Thus, in 1954, he was sent to Geelong Grammar, Australia's equivalent of Eton, which a decade later would feature on the CV of Prince Charles. For Carey, the change in circumstances was dramatic and traumatic. Everyone, it seemed, had double-barrelled names and could pronounce "castle" correctly. Interviewed by the Paris Review, Carey recalled that it cost £600 a year to send him to Geelong, an "unbelievable" amount of money in those days, adding: "I suppose it did solve a few child-care problems. I never felt I was being exiled or sent away ... No-one could have guessed that the experience would finally produce an endless string of orphan characters in my books." That thought occurred to Carey while he was writing His Illegal Self, another novel about a boy who is, to all intents and purposes, orphaned. In the past, Carey has described Australia as a country of orphans, people who for whatever reason have been separated from their parents and their homelands. "Our First Fleet was cast out from home'." The older he's got, the more he has come to appreciate why he does some things repetitively.
Reviews of His Illegal Self

Elizabeth Lowry in "The Times Literary Supplement": "Carey reopens the question of the fragile nature of identity in his new novel, His Illegal Self. The book may not have the im-mediate, eccentric appeal of Oscar and Lucinda, the imaginative brio that infuses The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith and My Life as a Fake, or the ability to shock of The Tax Inspector, but it is still unsettling, and it has a main character as original as any Carey has ever created."

"The complete review": "It feels somewhat thin in places, with a few holes and some of the behaviour seeming rather unlikely, but on the whole it's quite enjoyable. And there are parts when Carey gets going that completely sweep the reader along." This review follows a round-up of other reviews of the novel. "The complete review" gives it a B+.

Caroline Moore in "The Spectator": "With a less good writer this would be intensely annoying. Carey runs through many of the tricks of post-modernism -- the tricksy shifts, the dislocations of chronology and viewpoint, the refusal to allow the reader the common courtesy of speech-marks, which might make it altogether too easy to know what is going on -- yet, time after brilliant time, he carries it off (sometimes better than others; but this is one of his best). His tricks move beyond mere trickiness." She rates it a "triumph".

James Woods in "The New Yorker" in a double review with My Revolutions by Hari Kunzru: "Carey's often beautiful novel, one of his best recent works, has the bruising tang of all his fiction, in which crooked colloquialism (frequently Australian vernacular), and poetic formality combine. The result is brilliantly vital: the world bulges out of the sentences." He concludes that it is "fleeting and photographic".

Mark Sarvas, of "The Elegant Variation" weblog, was looking forward to reviewing this book but its "failings kept me from falling into the book the way I have with Carey's other novels." The review he's talking about appeared in "The Dallas Morning News": " But unlike Kelly Gang or Theft, in which fantastically stylized voice is key to understanding some remarkable characters, in His Illegal Self the effect is merely disorienting. Events are fitfully played and replayed from multiple perspectives, and clarifying details are withheld, resulting in an uneasy, unclear view of the landscape."

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on March 11, 2008 10:30 AM.

Australian Crime Fiction Snapshot: Update 6 was the previous entry in this blog.

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