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30 Days in Sydney (Writer and the City)

3.4 of 5 stars 3.40  ·  rating details  ·  287 ratings  ·  41 reviews
After living abroad for years, novelist Peter Carey returns home to Sydney and attempts to capture its character with the help of his old friends, drawing the reader into a wild and wonderful journey of discovery and rediscovery as bracing as the southerly buster that sometimes batters Sydney's shores. Famous sights such as Bondi Beach, the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge ...more
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Published July 1st 2010 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published January 1st 2001)
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Peter Carey’s 30 Days In Sydney claims to present a wildly distorted account of a writer’s return to a city he knows well. After ten years in New York, the author spends a month in the city he left behind and he records the experience. It’s not at all distorted, except interestingly via an essential personal perspective. It’s more than a travelogue, less than a memoir, certainly not a guidebook. The form is intriguing. It could pass as a commonplace book, the merely fleshed out notes of an indiv ...more
Cailean McBride
Structure is a regular bugbear when it comes to writing and a key area where many a writer can fall down. But the criticism is usually that there is not enough attention being paid to structure, that the result is undisciplined and not cohesive enough. This book, it seems to me, suffers from the more unusual foible of having too much structure.

As someone who lived in Sydney a few years back (actually at roughly the time Carey is writing about here) I very much wanted to enjoy this book. But whil
Andy Smith
"Quaint" is about the only way to describe this. It's more of an essay than a book, a longish essay about nothing in particular, or maybe Sydney. The town. History. People. Boats. Fires. Crooks. Whatever.... It's a pointless and meandering - but pleasant and mildly entertaining - bunch of anecdotes and second-hand memories.

At first I thought this was a "filler". Something penned by a decent author in a moment of despair. A displaced author, run home with tail between legs, deserted by their cre
Beauty is elusive and Sydney Harbour is no different. It's a beautiful but hard thing to see. The shoreline holds secrets in its sandstone folds -- add to this a layer of suburban ugliness and the result is beauty that's only ever glimpsed. Always there but always just beyond the grasp of the viewer. It keeps you craning your neck to see it.

You have to resign yourself to never fully know a place like this.

In 30 Days in Sydney Peter Carey captures this elusive feeling and is successful in present
Preedee H

It's too personal an account that I cannot finish the book. Maybe I'll come back and read it again when I know more of Sydney. But where to start?
Ruby Noise
After finishing Caitlin Moran's "How to be a Woman" then grabbing this one, seems I have gone from feminine to profoundly masculine in one mere grab. Peter Carey writes about his town of choice Sydney and the relationship he has with it. His friends are all men and he chooses to tell the story of the city through his friendship with them. I found this book to be incredibly masculine in the way it was written and the tales it tells. Sydney too is one of my favourite cities and it at least explain ...more
Hmm. What an odd book.

It gets two stars from me, mostly due to the fact that I'm Australian and found the interspersed snippets of our history interesting (sadly very little Australian history was taught when I was at school, and even that was almost entirely post-1788 history).

The rest was a bit too misogynistic, boys-club for me (it's mentioned at some point in the book that he clearly has no interest in hearing stories from women). Old dude goes back to Australia to collect stories from oth
Magdalene Lim
Jul 26, 2013 Magdalene Lim rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Australians, those planning a trip to Sydney
There are books you can't stop reading, books you have to force yourself to pause at certain moments to highlight portions you want to remember... and also books that you highlight so you don't fall asleep and manage to keep going. Yes, like a textbook. This is one of those.

Apart from the somewhat interesting bits of history (which I don't know how true they are), the book is pretty much a journal of Carey's travels in Sydney. I was not interested in his weird dreams nor his sailing adventures
If I were not in love with an Australian from Sydney, this book would have felt thin to me. But I am in love with an Australian who is in love with Sydney who delights in returning to his home city. Carey, an expat living in New York, at the outset waxes rhapsodic about the City in much the same way Mark does when anticipating a trip home or when he has just touched down at the airport. It makes a person feel great to be near that kind of happiness -- until the initial veneer wears off and Mark, ...more
This was an odd little book. It started beautifully, went off track and then came back with a coherent story. While it was a book about the city I've lived in all my life, it described a very different city to the one I know. Carey's Sydney is about the water and the land on its edge. My Sydney is about the kilometers of suburbs and people who rarely make it to the beach, except on special occasions.

Nevertheless it was an interesting read if only to see my hometown is a brand new light, and to b
João Roque
Este livro está incluído numa excelente pequena colecção da ASA, denominada “O Escritor e a Cidade”, e era o único que me faltava ler. Em pequenos volumes alguns escritores de renome escrevem livros sobre uma cidade a que estão ligados por qualquer razão; assim foram retratadas além de Sidney, Nova York, Rio de Janeiro, Florença, Paris e Praga.
O autor de “30 dias em Sidney” é Peter Carey, escritor australiano residente actualmente nos EUA e que visita a cidade de Sidney durante um mês, e aí enco
Sydney, and Australia even, have not been high on my hit-list of must-see places. Till now. Now Peter Carey's made me want to go. This is a thoroughly idiosyncratic take on the city. You won't read about its monuments or its foodie credentials. But you will have a take on its history and how it came from being home to the aboriginal people to a convict settlement, to a busy and often beautiful city on a stunning coastline. This via a series of escapades and conversations with groups of old frien ...more
Dean Forbes
Read for the second time. A mixture of stories of (male) friends and a potted history of Sydney, organised around four themes: earth, air, fire and water. It conveys a coherent, if very particular, sense of what Sydney means to the author.
Molly Miltenberger
Peter Carey is a remarkably talented writer. He begins the book as he arrives in Sydney after an absence of some years - and for a while you, the reader, are completely lost as he reconnects old ties. Constantly he is swapping voices to tell the story of a city from the different characters, to show the characteristics of the place. It is a thoroughly enjoyable read and I feel like if I went to Sydney, I would recognize it from his description.
Its a part of 'The Writer and The City' series - I
I read this book over a period of four months. It's short, so it really shouldn't have taken me that long. I have an excuse - I'd only read it on the train going to work, and then only when the conditions were right. It's a book that needs to take you to where it's talking about and Peter Carey's writing, however simple it may seem at first glance, deserves thought. The tales of Sydney from Carey and his groups of friends are personal and intelligent and the writing makes you care, even if the w ...more
Carol Harrison
This is a nice little pocket-sized book about Sydney, Australia. Apart from that, I don't find much to recommend it. It's a bit like eavesdropping on a series of conversations, although that could be more interesting. The author apparently doesn't believe in quotation marks, and since pretty much the whole book is made up of people talking to each other, it can be very confusing and frustrating to figure out who said what, or if the narrator is just describing something. The book is nice to look ...more
Dagmar Belesova
This book makes you want to get on a plane and fly to Sydney. Right now. Its a snapshot of stories in and about Sydney and it's written in a very engaging way. It's not a study and it doesn't claim or have to be. people's perceptions will differ based on who you meet, what you do and where you go. But the Sydney he portrays is ultimately a fascinating place, full of depth, flavour, and history, with its own intriguing character. You can't ask for more from a travelogue. Read it.
John Gaspar
30 Days in Sydney is surely one of the most self-indulgent books I've read. The back cover claims this to be an attempt to capture Sydney's character but it's little more than the reminiscences of a small group of men of a similar age and background. The stories themselves are interesting, as are the interlinking bits of Sydney's history, but they're more relevant to the Sydney of the 70s and 80s than to the city as it is now.
Nearly gave it four stars so perhaps 3 and a half. Particularly good if you are Australian and live in Sydney, can relate to or interested in either. Makes connections between Australian history, pre Capt. Cook and now through the collection of stories from individual friends and aquaintances of the author. Well written, easy to read. In chapters so can put down then pick up. FInished it quickly.
Quick, easy read. An Australian who's been living in NY for years, heads back to Sydney to write a book that will provide a view of this city through conversations with a series of his friends. The stories from his friends cover each of the four main elements (fire, water, earth, air). While parts where a bit slow, for the most part the book was enjoyable and provider a nice insider perspective.
A quick and delightful read. Carey conveys many of his preoccupations with Australia = its founding myths, the character of its real founding, the vitality of the elements of the city, but especially the complexity of old friendships and the glorious but terrifying nature of the waters surrounding Sydney. I also enjoyed his use of various voices, including a character from Flan O'Brien's Third Policeman.
Jiarong Shi
Some insight into the harbour city. Give me some clue to continue exploring Sydney. Forget about the bridge, the house, the garden, natural Sydney is already unbeatable.
Ostensibly a diary of Carey's return to Sydney, this book is an affectionate portrait of the beautifully grubby city ringed by bush and sea.

If you're familiar with Sydney you'll get more out of this, but it's well worth a read if only for a reminder of some of the difficulties that beset the joint.
I found this book quite interesting...still cannot understand, though, why Peter Carey, having been born in Melbourne and lived for a time in Sydney, has an Australian passport, but choses to live in New York...I have been to all 3 places and I know where I'd chose to live and it aint New York!
so that was fun. the story closing out the book is quite something but the whole thing is chock a block with remarkableness. carey starts with stating his uncertainty about being able to capture sydney - well, this captures it well enough for me to want to see this place for myself now.
Jenny Downing
Enjoyed this unexpected find in a charity shop, having recently visited Sydney. A refreshingly different approach to the travelogue as it tells of Peter Carey's own friends on his visit to the land of his birth. Amusing, hard hitting, a very good read!
Claire Haeg
Some of this book is wonderful but then PC gets on his high political horse. Great descriptions - doesn't quite get the atmosphere right (too Eastern Suburbs for me, maybe?)

4 stars because of how evocative of Sydney this book is. If you don't know the city and surrounding regions, it probably won't resonate as much and might not be as enjoyable.
I liked this and it gave me a better feel for NSW. But, I am not sure how interesting it would be if you weren't familiar with the area. Carey is an exceptional writer, tho.
This was a nice book to read before I left for Sydney. Gave me a bit of a different perspective than a travel guide would, while still offering plenty to explore.
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Peter Carey was born in Australia in 1943.

He was educated at the local state school until the age of eleven and then became a boarder at Geelong Grammar School. He was a student there between 1954 and 1960 — after Rupert Murdoch had graduated and before Prince Charles arriv
More about Peter Carey...

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