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30 Days in Sydney (Writer and the City)

3.35  ·  Rating Details ·  402 Ratings  ·  56 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
ebook, 0 pages
Published July 1st 2010 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published January 1st 2001)
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Mar 21, 2017 Jill rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is not a review, it's a response, I guess.

30 Days in Sydney A Wildly Distorted Account by Peter Carey

Almost all the characters are men. The one woman, Vicki, shows up near the end, driving a tow truck. Clara, a semi-ex-wife, is just a voice on the phone.

The friends of Peter Carey who populate this book are mostly left-leaning professionals, mostly doing well, but there's a crack in each one's foundation. (I like the geology in the book.)

Some of the cracks have become major destabilizing fissures and others are just little hairlines.

The elements –
Feb 15, 2012 Philip rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 11, 2017 Kris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a short but great read. Best if you've been there, I think, but would probably be great even if you haven't. Carey tells the story of the city through his mates, keeping things nice and local. Do yourself a favor and dedicate a few hours to discovering Peter Carey's Sydney. Now he's got to do one about Melbourne!
Peter Carey was born in country Victoria and raised in Melbourne, but it’s clear from many of his novels that his heart truly belongs to Sydney – even though, as he explains in the opening to this book, “I did not come to live in Sydney until I was almost forty and even then I carried in my baggage a typical Melbournian [sic] distrust of that vulgar crooked convict town.” (The fact that he misspells Melburnian is perhaps the best proof that he is a proper Sydneysider.) Carey ultimately settled i ...more
Magdalene Lim
Jul 26, 2013 Magdalene Lim rated it did not like it  ·  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
Jul 22, 2015 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Peter Carey plays with the line between fiction and nonfiction once again (the subtitle of his memoire: "a wildly distorted account"), and the results are delicious. Even if you've never been to Australia, I think you'll love these archetypal characters. If you have had the luck (it is the "lucky country") of living there, then you'll delight at the depictions of Aussie culture and history, I reckon.
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?
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
Jul 28, 2014 Donald rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 09, 2010 Andrea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 05, 2014 Jody rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: popsugar-2015
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
Laura Rittenhouse
I don't know why I didn't connect more with this book. Perhaps I was expecting it to be something it wasn't. It wasn't full of humour and jokes about one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Nor did it evoke images of a place I live and people I know. Mr. Carey's Sydney is very different than mine - harsher, more extreme. It's full of different people - wilder, more quirky. I knew the places and events he writes about but never had that, "oh yes" kind of thing you normally expect when you' ...more
Kuang Ting
Honestly speaking, it's not a great book to read.
I am in Sydney for postgraduate study, and I want to read a few books about this city.
In the past two months, I have explored this city in detail.
Hence, it's interesting to read stories in this beautiful city.
I will go to the point now.
The structure is messy! I have not read a book in this kind of chaos for a long time.
The book consists of stories from author's old mates.
Writer paid no attention to make the words easy to read. Like, Murmuring bla
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
Henrique Vogado
Nov 09, 2015 Henrique Vogado rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel-books
Grande livro! Uma boa surpresa. O Peter Carey surpreendeu-me na forma como fala sobre Sidney, da história e de alguns dos seus habitantes. Fiquei a conhecer um pouco da cidade, como se organiza e a explicação para o carácter dos Australianos.
As estórias dos seus amigos são muito boas e entusiasmam. Nota-se ali uma grande amizade entre velhos companheiros de aventuras.
Tive ainda o percalço de algumas páginas do livro aparecerem em branco, mas um e-mail para a Editora Leya resolveu a questão e env
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
Dec 15, 2014 Eliatan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australian
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
Jan 08, 2008 Andy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 16, 2014 Margaret rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Carol Harrison
Nov 11, 2011 Carol Harrison rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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.
Dagmar Belesova
Feb 21, 2013 Dagmar Belesova rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
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.
Jan 24, 2011 Renee rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
John Gaspar
Apr 19, 2012 John Gaspar rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: going-cheap
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.
Mar 12, 2016 Richard rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australia
Peter Carey, an Australian writer living in New York, returns to Sydney, catches up with old friends, and writes about his experience and his impressions of the city. This is a quirky little book, moderately interesting, moderately entertaining. The thing that will probably stick with me the most is Carey's fear of driving over the Sydney Harbor Bridge.
Feb 28, 2014 Luke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Paul Taylor
Sep 26, 2016 Paul Taylor rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's no travelogue but it is a warm hearted but objective, if narrow in its scope, view of Sydney at the turn of the millennium. Proof also that that the Australian male is still remarkably incapable of imaginative nicknames: Fisho, Fix, Sherry!
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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...

Other Books in the Series

Writer and the City (7 books)
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