Wrong About Japan by Peter Carey
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I am both a fan of Japan and a fan of Peter Carey, so one would think this book a no-brainer for me. I enjoyed it, sure, but I found my enthusiasms for both broader topics were greater than my enthusiasm for this book.
The book details a journey the writer (and his son, Charley) took to Japan. It’s an indulgent parental gesture – Carey’s son is a manga and anime fanatic, and the trip is suggested after the author observes the way his offspring enthusiastically consumes Japanese cultural exports. (School-mandated reading does not have a similar effect on the younger Carey.) (more…)
My Life As A Fake by Peter Carey
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Take a 1940s literary hoax, Frankenstein, Rilke, Ezra Pound, literary journal editorship and the memsahib culture of Malaysia in the middle of last century and whip it all up with ulcerated legs and modish, society-shocking femmes fatales and you’ve pretty much got this entry in Carey’s oeuvre. My Life as a Fake is shorter than a lot of his other work – I think it’s probably on par with something like The Tax Inspector for length – but it packs a pretty hefty punch. (more…)
Amnesia by Peter Carey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I’ve long been a fan of Peter Carey’s work, so I was pleased to be given Amnesia as a birthday present. I was further pleased to discover that, though the work is flawed, he’s created here one of his more memorable characters – Felix Moore, a weakling, a drinker, a leftie and crucially, a journalist.
Having worked in the industry for years, the portraiture is remarkably accurate. There’s a quote in it,
“I had a lifetime of hard-won technical ability but was my heart sufficient… Did I have the courage for something more than a five-column smash and grab?”
which pretty much encapsules the mind of the jobbing journo in a few scant lines. (more…)
Jack Maggs by Peter Carey
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Peter Carey became one of my favourite authors from my HSC study of Oscar and Lucinda. I suspect the reason behind this was that that work was set in the same period as some of the other (to my younger self) fusty works but brimmed with self-confidence and interest.
I’ve managed to reread it on an almost yearly basis since I first devoured it (the night before a reading diary was due – one I’d supposedly been writing all holidays) though in the years since I’ve discovered that this compulsive consumption is common where Carey’s involved: something certainly true of Jack Maggs.
The book is another interpretation of an existing work. As Oscar and Lucinda is to Patrick White’s Voss, so is Jack Maggs to Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. (more…)