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Illywhacker by Peter Carey
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Aug 11, 2012

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Read in August, 2012

ILLYWHACKER. (1985). Peter Carey. ***.
This is a 600-page epic novel from this Australian author that has been described as “funny,” “devious,” and “bitterly insightful.” It is all of those, but could have been even better if an astute editor had trimmed about 200 pages from it. It is epic in the style of Tom Jones. The main character, the “illywhacker” of the title (Wait! I should mention that “illywhacker” is Australian slang for a trickster or confidence man.) is Herbert Badgery, who, at the telling – for he is also our narrator – is 139-years old. His life from when he was a young man up to where he is today is the story. Like any trickster, he is never who he appears to be but is a consummate shape-shifter. The placind of his adventures throughout Australia gives the reader the flavor of the continent, although it’s difficult to differentiate Australia from Dartmoor without the occassional spotting of native animals and plants. The novel was short-listed for the Man-Booker Prize, but lost out, though it did go on and win several other prestigeous prizes. Mr. Carey is a wonderfully descriptive writer, but, in this case, should have devoted more time to focus.
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message 1: by Lewis (new)

Lewis Weinstein I cannot image reading a 600 page epic. Which is something I must keep in mind as I try to write my novel-in-progress.

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