Thursday, 8 July 2010

His illegal self by Peter Carey

Continuing my occassional reviews of the books I am reading here is 'His illegal self by Peter Carey.'

Peter Carey is an Australian living in New York and a two time Booker prize winner. I have read two other books written by him (Jack Maggs and Theft – A love story,) they both have an Australian flavour to them.
His illegal self, although starting in New York is mostly based in Queensland. It’s about a boy whose parents are hippies and revolutionaries. The courts decide to put him in the care of his eccentric granny. The story is about a trip he takes to find his father, with someone he thinks is his mother.
Written in the third person, past tense, Carey captures the intense feelings and relationships between the boy Che (Jay) and his supposed mother (Dial) in the humid conditions of Queensland bush. The hippie community include a few eccentric characters who come over well in the story. This is particularly true of Trevor, who is a sort of feral human, living off the land.
Carey uses rich description and evocative metaphor to build his story. An example on the first page – ‘You were some kind of lovely insect, expected to know things through you feelers, by kaleidoscope patterns in the others eyes, or the last page, - ‘What happened to the boy in that moment felt as if it could be measured with a twelve inch ruler, a sharp searing pain that somehow did not hurt.’

A good read and recommended.

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