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The Town

3.59  ·  Rating details ·  328 ratings  ·  60 reviews
"A powerfully doomy debut" (The Guardian), Shaun Prescott's The Town is a novel of a rural Australian community besieged by modern day anxieties and threatened by a supernatural force seeking to consume the dying town.

This is Australia, an unnamed, dead-end town in the heart of the outback--a desolate place of gas stations, fast-food franchises, and labyrinthine streets:
Hardcover, 256 pages
Published February 4th 2020 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published December 31st 2017)
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Average rating 3.59  · 
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 ·  328 ratings  ·  60 reviews

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Adam Dalva
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book, which has shades of EXIT WEST in how it turns a real world phenomenon (in this case the shrinking towns of the Australian outback) into a surreal allegory. The lead, a researcher and writer, arrives in a small town and, in picaresque fashion, has a sequence of interactions with the numbed residents of the town. Eventually, holes start appearing everywhere, threatening to envelop the town itself. It has the diminishing returns element that you might expect - once the ...more

goodreads giveaway AND

fulfilling book riot's 2020 read harder challenge task #10: Read a book that takes place in a rural setting

which describes 89% of what i already read...


this book's description immediately grabbed me by my steve erickson/evan dara-loving tendrils, shouting, KAREN! I AM YOUR HUCKLEBERRY!

Community radio host Ciara receives dozens of unmarked cassette recordings every week and broadcasts them to a listenership of
Michael Livingston
Moody and strange book about boredom, belonging and pointlessness in regional Australia. It combines the foreboding and random violence of Wake in Fright with the allegorical approach and interest in myth-making and storytelling of The Plains and captures something real about Australia.
Sep 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shaun Prescott's first novel is a strangely compelling Oz-lit amalgam of kitchen-sink drama filtered through an odd, pastoral folk weirdness lens. It's an examination of failure: of motivation, of society, of relationships and of the laws of physics. It's a meditation on the pull exerted by cities and their rural sisters, a contemplation of one's ability to record loss (and the writing process), and something of a rueful love-letter to a particular part of Australia.

The book's unidentified
Cade Turner-Mann
The Town is a hard book to review. Full disclosure, I live in the Central West of NSW in a place that was a town, then a village, then a rural outpost; so this is close to home. Shaun Prescott's writing blew me away. His prose is eloquent and sparing. The novel itself is intriguing and drags the reader along. The lack of proper resolutions is a stylistic choice but doesn't leave me feeling unsatisfied. My only gripe, and it is a minor one, is the conclusion seemed a bit too drawn out and only ...more
Oct 06, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Sort of like Welcome to Night Vale, if Welcome to Night Vale were more understated and symbolic (read: pretentious), Australian, and boring.
A story about towns disappearing in the Central West of New South Wales told by a wannabe writer who works as a supermarket stacker. He lives is an unnamed but sizeable town full of quirky people, with no history, nothing interesting, a freight train that passes every day but no one knows where to, a bus route with no passengers, a pub with no customers, a radio station with no listeners. The town's old people are ignored and the rest seem to lose themselves in drugs and alcohol. The narrator ...more
Kasa Cotugno
Reading The Town, a debut novel of existential dread, was a dreamlike experience. An unnamed writer somehow moves to an unnamed town in order to chronicle the disappearing towns of New South Wales. Inhabited by eccentrics who don't seem to have any relationship to one another, this town provides a paradox in that there appear to be many vital businesses, but no customers, no patrons of the many restaurants and fast food outlets. Two shopping malls. The writer claims he's writing about ...more
Oct 22, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book seems to be described heavily via comparisons with other more famous works. It’s understandable, because here it wouldn’t just be a marketing ploy, this is a genuinely difficult book to describe on its own. If I had to make comparisons, there are aspects of it that are reminiscent of Cook’s work, not so much Fear is the Rider, more like Wake in Fright. Same creepy claustrophobia of it all. But the main reason is that this is a story that’s more mood driven than plot driven. There is, ...more
Cass Moriarty
Apr 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
‘It was only possible to see the full extent of the town if you spent many years there. Only then could you see the barriers shimmer at its edges, and know what the edges meant.’ So begins Shaun Prescott’s quirky and unusual novel The Town (Brow Books 2017). The hapless narrator arrives in the town ostensibly to write a book about the disappearing towns in the Central West region of New South Wales, and finds himself immersed in a strange and unsettling place where nothing is as it seems. He ...more
Wow, I'm really glad I took a chance on this book. Although I liked the first half much better than the end, I'd still recommend it. Philosophical, existential, with some fantastic imagery and ideas. Easy to read. Definitely in my wheelhouse of the uncanny in the banal.
Dec 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Longnecks of beer. Michel's Patisserie. The mesmerising and affecting description of a life performance by The Out of Towners. The idea of art without an audience. And lots of holes ...more
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
Another #AussieApril read complete - this was also my final (very belated) read of the 2018 Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction shortlist.

THE TOWN by Shaun Prescott was a really unique read - it felt like an ode to small towns across Australia, while specifically looking at the idea of ‘disappearing towns’ in NSW. We follow a male narrator who is writing a book about disappearing towns, and is spending time in one to get to know the community and use his observations to inform his book.

Nov 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A really terrific first novel that seems to me to have been strikingly influenced by Gerald Murnane's great Australian novel The Plains, but without being derivative of it. Prescott has his own story to tell, which unfolds in a somewhat magical realist abstract way. He captures modern Australia beautifully.
Sep 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A boy traces the patch where his void and ours overlap. Hilarity ensues.
Maura Heaphy Dutton
Nov 02, 2018 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abandoned
Yikes. Might have been interesting as a short story, for about about 20 pages, but the prospect of 200 more like that ... let's just say, I bailed ...
Sep 19, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: australia, c21st
I first heard about this book back in September when I saw a review of it inThe Weekend Australian,and it intrigued me becauseThe Australian doesn’t often review books from micro publishers like Brow Books. Ed Wright’s review of The Townran to two whole columns, and it began like this:
Riffing off authors such as Gerald Murnane, Shaun Prescott builds an idiosyncratic vision that is simultaneously banal and powerfully moving.The Weekend Australian, September 6-17
So I bought a copy. Gerald Murnane
Julia Tulloh Harper
I actually really admire this book, and found reading it totally fascinating. The story follows an unnamed narrator who moves to a NSW rural town to write about 'disappearing' towns (disappearing both figuratively and literally). It's about bordeom and ennui, capitalism, small town Australia (and big city Australia), myths of belonging, the function of 'history', the function of art, and a whole host of other stuff. Really interesting and really great prose style. I only didn't give it more ...more
Nov 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really knew nothing about The Town other than a bunch of people whose opinions I respected said I had to read it. And holy crap, they were right! Darkly humorous and deeply unsettling, it is a masterpiece of small town ennui reminiscent of JG Ballard, Iain Banks and, dare I say it, Franz Kafka. There are so many perfectly executed set pieces, but it is the way they are weaved together around the framework of a wannabe author researching a book on disappearing and disappeared towns only to find ...more
Feb 02, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a very strange book – strange and strangely compelling. The plot, such as it is, concerns an unnamed narrator who arrives in the eponymous town to gather material for a book he is writing, a book about the disappeared towns in the Central West of New South Wales, Australia. Although at first sight the town seems to be a normal, ordinary town, it soon becomes clear that it is perhaps not so ordinary. For a start, it seems to have no past. Does it have a future? Certain surreal aspects to ...more
Susie Anderson
it was good but ran out of steam when things started getting weird.
I listened to this when out walking but am still wondering what on earth I listened to - I just couldn't get into it at all.
Gerii Pleitez
Feb 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One arvo I had a couple glasses of vermouth at the bar next to Paperback bookshop in Melbourne. I love getting a little loaded and buying great local writers there. I got to talking about The Town by Shaun Prescott with the store attendant. We agreed that this book feels like an honest, hard boiled story about life as an outsider in the microcosm of country town life. Prescott creates mood and character in his prose through landscape. The local shopping mall, the pub, even the local train ...more
May 16, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The book concerns an aspiring author who describes himself as an uninteresting person who talks to people he generally regards to be similarly uninteresting. He records and collects these conversations as material for a book he is writing about dying towns. Sadly the book is not more than the sum of its parts.

The author in the story seems self-absorbed and even when he is talking to others, seems uninterested in anything they have to say, appearing wholly engrossed in his own ideas and
Kate van Hooft
Jun 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a little while to get into this - I had to wrap my head around it and go over a few things before I could really start to become engrossed - but once I was there it was worth it. This is a wonderfully off-beat book about the humour and grace in mundane Australia. Wonderfully crafted, with the confidence to take its time. I felt moved by it in a way that I can't quite put my finger on, but I kind of like it that way.
Michael Windle
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you've come from somewhere different, gone looking for your place, or ever been caught in the orbit of a city this book is for you. This is the best book about Australia I've read.

It's humble, witty, readable and wise.

Mar 19, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took me a while to get into this book, but persisted on a friend's recommendation. Ultimately, the journey was worth it. A thought-provoking read.
Apr 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Steve Sanders wants to bash you.
Warning! Not a Fun Book, But It Makes You Think!

I almost quit reading, but I'm glad I made it to the end. This novel has a theme of existential nihilism that tries to reflect what happens when civilization loses its intrinsic value and becomes mundane and dysfunctional. Ugh! The reality of unintended consequences from dystopian mediocrity.

Set in the small towns on the edges of the Australian desert, this fictional account questions the long-term value of anything humans do to save themselves or
Diane Hernandez
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley
Describing himself as “writing a book about the disappearing towns in the Central West region of New South Wales”, the unnamed narrator of The Town states he “was probably not a writer”. This is definitely an unusual way to open a book.

Despite not being a writer, the narrator keeps writing about the unusual town he finds himself in. There are streets that twist and turn ultimately ending nowhere. It was hard for me to not feel the same about the book. And then I had a flash of inspiration! The
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Shaun Prescott is a writer based in the Blue Mountains in New South Wales. He has self-released several small books of fiction, including Erica From Sales and The End of Trolleys, and was editor of Crawlspace Magazine.
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