Interview with Peter Carey

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Peter-Carey-2012.jpg    Jan Dalley, of the "Financial Times", recently had lunch with Australian author Peter Carey over a few glasses of red in New York. The author's latest novel, The Chemistry of Tears, is either just out, or just about to be, in the US. And while it's always interesting to hear a writer talk about his latest book, don't we just long for a mention, a mere hint, of the next book? Course we do.

So, I foolishly ask, does he feel jaded about US politics and the upcoming election? Suddenly, a small flash of temper. "I'm not jaded, I'm enraged, which is a little different!" Obama, he says fiercely, "tricked us".

Carey, who has had dual US-Australian citizenship since 2002, adds: "I wept when he was elected, with pleasure and joy. We never thought he was a radical but we did believe he would try to do what he said. But he was not able to, and he has a passionate belief in compromise, that's who he is. It was f**ked from the beginning. Meanwhile the other lot have got worse."

For his next book, Carey is harnessing this head of steam to fuel a new challenge, "to deal with political events in Australia". It will be, he says, a story of three generations, running from the Battle of Brisbane in 1942, through 1975, "when the American government f**ked over the Australian government", up to the present day. "I feel strongly about it - it'll be really good to write an Australian book. I often have to go back on business but otherwise my relationship with my country is through the newspapers."

I'm lost. Battle of Brisbane? "Yeah, no one knows about that." Over the course of two days in November 1942, it turns out, Australian troops and American troops attacked each other in the streets of Brisbane, with violent incidents, gunfire, barricades; there were several deaths. As for Carey's take on the constitutional crisis of 1975, we'll have to wait for the book for that. He has set it in a place just like Bacchus Marsh (where his brother and sister still live), and its narrator, an unreliable journalist, is just Carey's age. But the guy's nothing like him, he insists - although "everyone wants you to be writing about yourself".

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on April 13, 2012 12:18 PM.

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