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Three Dollars

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  822 ratings  ·  76 reviews
Winner of The Age Book of the Year in Australia, Three Dollars is about Eddie, an honest, compassionate man who finds himself, at the age of thirty-eight, with a wife, a child, and three dollars. At any other time the world would have smiled on him. But this is the nineties and the world values other things. A brilliantly deft and poignant portrait of a man attempting to r ...more
Hardcover, 358 pages
Published June 15th 1999 by MacMurray & Beck (first published 1998)
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‘Ever feel’, the blurb on the back blurbeth, ‘like the only thing trickling down is sewage?’

Oh Yes, I do! Verily I do.

‘Any body who has felt the small, grey ordinary feeling which lies in ambush some mornings and tries to keep you from getting out of bed will enjoy Three Dollars’

Why yes, I’ve felt it, every morning in fact, and not just because London is foggy and grey in winter. Too true, uh hum.

‘Dolour is never far away and Perlman’s rage, rancour, even, is unmistakeable’

Well hallelujah, this
Jenn Custard-Jarosz
Terribly mundane. I'm a sucker for personal struggle, or a an occasional plot twist at the very least. This protagonist is completely uninteresting. There was a brief nostalgic tug on my heartstrings when Eddie recounts the beginning of his relationship with high school sweetheart Tanya, as anyone could relate for a few sweet moments until reality pukes in their mouth a little. Forgive me, is that harsh?

If I had any interest in following the lives on higher education "intellectuals" who have d
Dell Macneil
Aug 14, 2007 Dell Macneil rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Intelligent readers
I read this book almost 10 years ago in its original Australian edition, which won The Age "Book of the Year" award. It's the type of book that leaves a lasting impression, and it remains one of my favourite books.
The following synopsis from the Pan Macmillan Australia Picador website is a good introduction to Three Dollars:

"At once humorous and dramatic, Three Dollars is about Eddie, an honest, compassionate man who finds himself, at the age of 38, with a wife, a child and three dollars.
Ron Charles
"Three dollars" doesn't sound like much, but Elliot Perlman's new novel is priceless. Already a bestseller in his native Australia, this is Perlman's first book, and with an initial public offering like this, it looks like the beginning of a considerable literary fortune.

Eddie Harnovey, the ironic narrator of this charming story, has a keen eye for patterns in his life - personal and economic - and most of them aren't good. "Every nine and a half years I see Amanda," he begins. "Most recently wa
Justin Evans
"Remarkably well written..."
"A catchy pop song..."

Forgive me if this sounds elitist, but when Time Out and Marie Claire say your novel is literary or well written, but the NYTBR says it's a pop-song, you've been middlebrowed. And so this novel is: fabulous escapism if you already think that neo-classical economics is a bad idea and that 'self-reliance' is a smoke-screen behind which a few million people get rich while wages stagnate. Now, I do think these things, and the novel is n
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jolene Haack
Ugh. UGH. I tried. Really. But if you spend most of your time rolling your eyes while reading, something is wrong.

For example:

Using the term "moistened the inside of her neck" instead of just saying "swallowed".

This is what did me in, though. After this line, my brain turned off.

"Usually I watched her flicker on the wall, remembering her from university, imagining that young woman screaming in horror at the absence of exhilaration in her mid-thirties self. It was too simple and therefore inaccur
This book read in much the same way as The Seven Types of Ambiguity. It is intelligent, thoughtful, but very liberal and those of a conservative bent will find no love in here. Therefore, I liked it. It was extremely depressing and post-modern. Therefore, I liked it. Put in context with the greater work of Seven Types, it is an interesting juxtaposition of post-modern thought before Perlman decides to be anti-post-modern thought. Overall, intelligent and engaging. The conceit of the three dollar ...more
Jan 20, 2009 Nicole rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adults secure enough in their lives to take it with a grain of salt
Perlamn uses so many words to get his point across that at times it is almost easier to read him aloud to yourself. Being a verbal person myself, I was cool with it.

I was really enjoying the book, the descriptions, the character interactions...and then about 3/4 of the way through I got horribly depressed. I waded through the depression and then WHAM! the book was over. Just like that. Things are worse and worse until they are suddenly better and the curtain is coming down. Deus ex machina anyon
The events in this book portray a couple of my generation (10 years older than me, but this is negligent), living in Melbourne, both university graduates, the wife an academic in the area of literature, working on her PhD. thesis, while her husband (being also the narrator/protagonist) working as a chemical engineer. The story leads us gradually but surely into the economic recession of the early 1990s, where many people lost their jobs (rate of unemployment was close to 11%).

The book itself is
Annabel Smith
I can hardly believe I'm abandoning this book. After reading The Street Sweeper I couldn't wait to read more of Perlman's work. But this felt so trivial in comparison, and a little glib. The voice got on my nerves. I couldn't connect. Sorry!
Not as good as 7 types, but still excellent. Have owned this for maybe 10 years. Funny, I started it, but didn't finish it then. I suppose there is times in your life for reading certain books, because I loved it this time.
David Scarratt
I am ambivalent about whether to assign a rating to this book. I don't think it would reflect any sort of equilibrium of reasons. It contains some great writing, including a few particularly fine bons mots. There's a couple of interesting and articulate characters (perhaps too articulate, at times), a story I could readily relate to, and the right attitude to neoliberalism. But I half wish I hadn't bothered. Maybe I didn't get it. Maybe it seems dated. Maybe I just didn't like the ending. Or may ...more
Claudia Putnam
This book pretty much sums up the 90s.

I didn't realize things were so much the same in Australia as they were/are in the US... Except there apparently banks just change the interest rates on your home mortgage at whim.

This is a story about the many betrayals the educated classes have fallen prey to in the last decade or so, when it seemed that if you were a qualified professional and worked decently hard you ought to be able to count on certain securities. A job, a house, a family.

All of thes
I discovered Elliot Perlman’s ‘Three Dollars’ through Lisa (from ANZ Lit Lovers) who recommended it and other books by Perlman highly. I hadn’t heard of Perlman before and so was quite excited to discover a new-to-me author. I read the book over the last week and finished it yesterday. Here is what I think.

The story told in ‘Three Dollars’ is narrated by Eddie. Eddie meets Amanda every nine and a half years. She was his childhood friend and they studied in the same school together. After Amanda
David Goode
I'm pretty sure this is the first novel I have read that has been set almost entirely in Melbourne Australia; which is where i live. This was kinda cool, cause I knew exactly what everything looked like and I could at times relate to what he was talking about when he described a place or a feeling.

This book is set mostly around the recession during the early 90's, The recession that 'Australia had to have'. It focuses around Eddie, who, at various times throughout his life, finds himself either
This is one of the best novels I've read in a long time, possibly one of the best I've read. Pearlman's Eddie Harnovey is a decent man living in increasingly bankrupt times (i.e., now). He and his wife Tanya are young, aspiring professionals who find their truth-seeking inclinations stymied by the corporatist, deregulating world around them.

The seismic shift of priorities that Western governments, particularly English-speaking ones, embraced in the 80s in the name of imparting "personal respons
I've got to admit that while I did enjoy the story it was a depressing read and took me quite a while to finish.
Edward reminds me of many men I know, scratching away for the sake of their family, unsure what would happen if the boat capsized. I wasn't a fan of Tanya at all - a know-all pain in the arse, hired by the university straight after graduation with no idea how the world works and unwilling to listen to anyone who disagrees with her ideals. So, again, a very believable character and her
Picked this up while away for the weekend - remembered that a friend recommended Elliot Perlman to me ages ago.
Slightly dated.
Enjoyed the richness of the central characters.
But found it at times awkward and sermonising. The anti-economic rationalism tracts / dialogue are unsubtle and clumsy.
I did like this book but it wasn't quite all that I had expected; it ended up feeling slightly more ordinary than I wanted. Perhaps that was intentional, perhaps that fits with the story in some way... but it just didn't make me love it.
Felicity J
Although I didn't rate it as highly as others, this is a good book.

So good, in fact, that when I realised that my cat had peed on my copy (it had dried), I still finished the book before binning it.

I think that shows the regard in which I hold this book.
Eric Conner
May 28, 2009 Eric Conner rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: No one
This book definitlely disappointed me. After reading 'Seven Types of Ambiguity' I went out and ordered two more of Rerlman's books; 'Three Dollars & ' The Reasons I Wont be Coming' (hopefully "Reasons" will be better).
Ok, the story/plot line was depressing and way too drawn out. I thought the book was going to be good for the Intro and the first 2 chapters, then it became repetitive. And the Perlman uses like 40 words in one sentence that could be said in 15 it seemed.
I just was majorlly di
Simon Bate
I loved the first part of Three Dollars but it gradually lost the plot (literally)....but still a worthy read
David Winger
He's one of the best writers in the country. Malouf is a more accomplished and finished product, White was more universal and more erudite, Patrick Holland may have more raw talent, Murnane is stranger, Castro more exotic and Josephine Rowe slicker, but perhaps no one puts it all in one package like Perlman. This book is hard as nails and right on the money, so different from most of the Woman's Day style Oz Lit being forced upon us today. Imagine something like The Slap, mood and concerns, only ...more
Very engaging novel about trying to make your life work and somehow remain human in the increasingly dehumanizing world of corporate greed and disenfranchisement. Although it is more than ten years old and set in Australia, if anything it is even more on point for 2012 USA. The protagonist is an amazingly likable and honest soul and you cringe for every humiliating experience he is forced to suffer. It leaves one feeling hopeful--if not for his immediate financial prospects (which seem grim), bu ...more
Graham Buxton
Too highbrow with an ending that's pretty unsatisfying.
4.5 stars
"Never read a book that consists of lyrical prose that is underpinned with true humanitarianism, exploring politics, ideology and sociology. Was wondering why this had a five star rating and, yet not quite half way through, this is SO much more than a narrative; it comments on Australian society; our apathy and paradoxically our commitment to causes - a brilliant book that exemplifies so many themes... Only problem I found was that it slowed down a little just when Paul's wife came to s
I first became aware of Perlman's work with "Seven Types of Ambiguity". I think the thing that strikes me most about his writing is his keen ability to capture the stream of consciousness of his characters as well as create realistic, almost tangible worlds for them to exist.

Three Dollars was no exception. And while I was lost among some of the political conversations in the book, I marveled at how real he characters seem to become as the story went on.
I was looking forward to reading this book, set in a city I had lived in, by an intelligent and well reviewed local writer. Perlman's topic of economic change in a modern era appealed to me, and at first I enjoyed the characters and pace. But I found this book very unsubtle. Perlman's politics is all too obvious, and his language is at time affected. He tries too hard to impress the reader with his political commentary and artificial metaphors.
I went into this book expecting it to be written similarly to "7 Types of Ambiguity". Not so. It's more light-hearted than "7 Types..." The theme of seeing his innocent childhood friend, Amanda, throughout his life didn't carry the book as much as I thought it would. The protagonist was a very likable character, but besides his humor, he was rather...boring. Though, the relationships with his wife and daughter do give the story more heft.
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Elliot Perlman is an Australian author and barrister. He has written two novels and one short story collection. His work "condemns the economic rationalism that destroys the humanity of ordinary people when they are confronted with unemployment and poverty". This is not surprising in a writer who admires Raymond Carver and Graham Greene because they "write with quite a strong moral centre and a st ...more
More about Elliot Perlman...
Seven Types of Ambiguity The Street Sweeper The Reasons I Won't Be Coming Good Morning, Again Meanjin 2 2012

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