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Pooka

Frank Kermode

16 October 1997
Jack Maggs 
by Peter Carey.
Faber, 328 pp., £15.99, September 1997, 9780571190881
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... is ‘by the author of Oscar and Lucinda’. It is in some respects unlike that novel, being shorter, darker and less furiously though still adequately inventive. Its economy may shock some folk, for PeterCarey is known to be an exuberant novelist, copious, various and fantastic. It is possible to admire his books for their lack of respect for boundaries, for the qualities they share with the work of ...

Knowing

Frank Kermode

3 December 1981
Bliss 
by Peter Carey.
Faber, 296 pp., £6.50, November 1981, 0 571 11769 4
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Exotic Pleasures 
by Peter Carey.
Picador, 192 pp., £1.95, October 1981, 0 330 26550 4
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... When I started reading Bliss I hadn’t read Mr Carey’s first book, The Fat Man in History, though like everybody else I had heard the stories acclaimed in terms which made the prospect of his first novel very attractive. It is therefore both ...
18 April 1985
Illywhacker 
by Peter Carey.
Faber, 600 pp., £9.95, April 1985, 0 571 13207 3
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... slim. Not that its content is thin, but that its stories are so splendidly tall, making the fatness proportionate and proving again that longueurs have less to do with length than with pace, which PeterCarey controls like a master, thwacking his prose along with all the exuberant free energy of a boy thwacking a hoop with a stick. To Herbert Badgery – funny man, raconteur and compère ...

Feral Hippies

Theo Tait: Peter Carey​ goes astray

6 March 2008
His Illegal Self 
by Peter Carey.
Faber, 272 pp., £16.99, February 2008, 978 0 571 23151 5
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... Queensland in the early 1970s was, according to the narrator of PeterCarey’s new novel, ‘a police state run by men who never finished high school’. This intriguing throwaway remark turns out to be not much of an exaggeration. For twenty years from 1968, Queensland was ...

Principia Efica

Jonathan Coe

22 September 1994
The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith 
by Peter Carey.
Faber, 422 pp., £14.99, September 1994, 0 571 17197 4
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... Like his near-namesake, Tristram Shandy, the unlikely hero of PeterCarey’s new novel begins the story of his life at the very beginning. While he doesn’t go into quite as much detail about the moment of his conception, he appears to have a very clear memory of the ...

Damaged Beasts

James Wood: Peter Carey’s ‘Theft’

8 June 2006
Theft: A Love Story 
by Peter Carey.
Faber, 269 pp., £16.99, June 2006, 0 571 23147 0
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... drawing to the authenticity of the authenticator, why shouldn’t the final verdict lie with the buyer, who in a Stanley Fishy way has simply asserted his right to authenticate? Floreat emptor. Or as PeterCarey ends his new novel, ‘How do you know how much to pay if you don’t know what it’s worth?’ Theft: A Love Story, is about just such issues of authenticity and fraudulence in the ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Darwinians & Creationists

1 November 2001
... design theory is what it has in common with the teleological excesses of fanatical Darwinism: where one demands cause, the other demands purpose; both recoil from the random and the accidental. PeterCarey has deservedly won the Booker Prize for True History of the Kelly Gang. The WHSmith Book Award, continuing its flight from elitism, has renamed itself ‘The People’s Choice’. To have a go ...
12 September 1991
The Tax Inspector 
by Peter Carey.
Faber, 279 pp., £14.99, September 1991, 0 571 16297 5
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The Second Bridegroom 
by Rodney Hall.
Faber, 214 pp., £13.99, August 1991, 9780571164820
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... Both of these Australian novels describe circles. Carey, forsaking the confident historical sweep of Oscar and Lucinda and Illywhacker to focus once again on the horrors of modern suburbia, traces the vicious circles of a family history in which ...

Full Tilt

Thomas Jones: Peter Carey

8 February 2001
True History of the Kelly Gang 
by Peter Carey.
Faber, 352 pp., £16.99, January 2001, 0 571 20987 4
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... as well could be’; when a traveller comes along, ‘we took him in, and giv him to eat and drink, and made him welcome. We all do that, all the colony over.’ It is in pursuit of such myths that PeterCarey’s Oscar and Lucinda set out for the promised land; they learn the realities of life in the colony the hard way. Carey set himself against Dickens more explicitly nine years later, in Jack ...

Forged, Forger, Forget

Nicholas Spice: Peter Carey

5 August 2010
Parrot and Olivier in America 
by Peter Carey.
Faber, 451 pp., £18.99, February 2010, 978 0 571 25329 6
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... Connecticut (which Tocqueville also visited), takes on the character of an éducation sentimentale for Olivier, a life crisis that pushes his intellectual concerns into second place. One can see why Carey had to ditch Beaumont. In background, temperament and intellect, Tocqueville’s friend was too close to him to be much use to a novelist. Two broadly similar characters in the same novel won’t ...
2 November 1995
Generations of Resistance 
by Steve Cox and Peter Carey.
Cassell, 120 pp., £55, November 1995, 9780304332502
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...  with crucial support at the outset from the United States, and later, to lesser extents, of the Governments of the big EEC states, Japan and Australia. The course of events is ably outlined by PeterCarey in the tightly-packed text that accompanies the grim pictures taken in 1991 by the courageous British photographer Steve Cox. No anti-colonial guerrilla resistance had developed in this remote ...

Whitlam Fictions

Zachary Leader

16 February 1989
Kisses of the Enemy 
by Rodney Hall.
Faber, 622 pp., £12.95, January 1989, 0 571 15091 8
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Postcards from Surfers 
by Helen Garner.
Bloomsbury, 180 pp., £11.95, January 1989, 0 7475 0272 2
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Forty-Seventeen 
by Frank Moorhouse.
Faber, 175 pp., £10.95, August 1988, 0 571 15210 4
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... in 1973, by the Whitlam Labour Government, of the Literature Board of the newly-formed Australia Council. Behind established international figures such as Patrick White, Thomas Keneally and now PeterCarey crowds a small army – a second wave, as it were – of grant-garlanded and prize-bedecked novelists and storytellers, many of whom, especially those whose reputations derive initially from ...

You bet your life

Margaret Walters

21 April 1988
Oscar and Lucinda 
by Peter Carey.
Faber, 512 pp., £10.95, March 1988, 0 571 14812 3
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The Fifth Child 
by Doris Lessing.
Cape, 131 pp., £9.95, April 1988, 0 224 02553 8
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Eight Months on Ghazzah Street 
by Hilary Mantel.
Viking, 299 pp., £11.95, April 1988, 0 670 82117 9
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... PeterCarey’s Oscar and Lucinda is a tall story, as elaborate and fantastical as any of the yarns spun by the trickster hero of his last novel Illywhacker. For one thing, it’s a family history, and we’re ...

Humiliations

Michael Irwin

4 December 1980
Collected Short Stories 
by Kingsley Amis.
Hutchinson, 303 pp., £6.95, October 1980, 0 09 143430 0
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World’s End 
by Paul Theroux.
Hamish Hamilton, 211 pp., £6.50, October 1980, 0 241 10447 5
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Packages 
by Richard Stern.
Sidgwick, 151 pp., £5.95, November 1980, 0 283 98689 1
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Oxbridge Blues 
by Frederic Raphael.
Cape, 213 pp., £5.95, October 1980, 9780224018715
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The Fat Man in History 
by Peter Carey.
Faber, 186 pp., £4.95, October 1980, 0 571 11619 1
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... But if they can be decoded, does not the decoding dispose of them, explain them away? It will do so unless the vision is interinfused with common experience. In a sufficient number of these stories Carey achieves this delicate adjustment, notably in ‘Exotic Pleasures’ and ‘The Puzzling Nature of Blue’, but most notably in ‘The Chance’. The future in which this story is set allows people ...

Up from Under

John Bayley

18 February 1988
The Faber Book of Contemporary Australian Short Stories 
edited by Murray Bail.
Faber, 413 pp., £12.95, January 1988, 0 571 15083 7
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... or even the British. That was the beginning of disidentification, and almost all the stories in this book recognise it in one way or another. Most, like the examples by Helen Garner, David Brooks, PeterCarey, Joan London, Kate Grenville, are admirably achieved on this basis, the authors all born in the Forties or Fifties; and the names indicate that the newer European immigrants have not yet found ...

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