I have read three other books by this Australian author: Illywhacker which I cannot remember, the True History of the Kelly Gang which was a brilliant purported biography of Ned Kelly, and Theft about an Australian painter which was one of the most fantastic characters I have met in fiction. I think this book is the best.
I could scarcely put it down. It is written from the point of view of a naive editor of a London poetry magazine who travels with poet and novelist John Slater to Kuala Lumpur where she meets an Australian poet, Chubb. He had hoaxed an Australian poetry magazine editor by inventing "McCorkle" a working class classical poet who wrote verses of genius. The editor had then been tried for publishing obscenity (the verses were obscurely risque); at the trial a man had stood up claiming to be McCorkle!
This is a retake on the story of Frankenstein and, like before, the creator and his monster pursue one another although into Malaysia rather than the Arctic.
In KL the London editor discovers that Chubb has a copy of McCorkle's work (which is truly genius). But is this Chubb's work writing as McCorkle or has McCorkle a truly independent physicality and, if so, was he created by Chubb or was he discovered by Chubb? And what is the family secret that the London editor possesses and John Slater knows? Nothing is certain as we listen to the stories in the febrile atmosphere of KL.
Carey can't half write! On page 2 Sarah Wode-Douglas, the London editor, writes "I cannot say that I understood his [Slater's] role in my parents' marriage, and only when my m other killed herself - in a spectacularly awful style - did I suspect anything was amiss. In the last minutes of her life I saw John Slater put his arms around her and finally I understood, or thought I did."
If that sentence doesn't make you NEED to read on I don't know what will.
April 2009, 266 pages
- Having reviewed over 1100 books on this blog, I have now written one myself. Motherdarling is a story about a search for a missing Will which reveals long-hidden family secrets. It is available on Kindle through Amazon. Read it and find out whether this critic can write. I live in Canterbury, England. I lived for more than thirty years in Bedford. Having retired from teaching; I became a research student at the University of Bedfordshire researching into Liminality. I achieved my PhD in 2019. I am now properly retired. I love reading! I enjoy in particular fiction (mostly great and classic fiction although I also enjoy whodunnits), biography, history and smart thinking. Follow me on twitter: @daja57