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Paperback Illywhacker Book

ISBN: 0571139493

ISBN13: 9780571139491


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Format: Paperback

Condition: Very Good*

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Book Overview

This description may be from another edition of this product. In Australian slang, an illywhacker is a country fair con man, an unprincipled seller of fake diamonds and dubious tonics. And Herbert Badgery, the 139-year-old narrator of Peter Carey's uproarious...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

A memorable book, worth reading.

This is the book that introduced me, many years ago, to Peter Carey. I picked it up because I was intrigued by the title, because I was interested in Australia, and because I like long books. But I *loved* it because Carey knows -- as simplistic as this sounds -- how to tell a story. His characters are well drawn (from scoundrels to nutters to fools). His pacing is spot-on. His ear for language is superb. This novel is well worth your time. So many of the books I read are forgotten within days or weeks. I read Illywhacker years and years ago, but it's stayed in my mind all this time. It's that good.

lyrically, weirdly composed

I love this book. (I love Peter Carey generally, and especially here.) Many of the reviewers have confessed a certain bafflement when confronted with Carey, both in this novel and elsewhere. This is not, I think, because his prose is stylistically off-putting, or his themes too profound or personal. Rather, Carey's novels are constructed in an unconventional manner, and that novelty, I think, confuses: each of his many chapters serves as a floating, almost separate episode. The cumulative effect is less that of linked stories than linked prose poems. The reader does not feel caught up in a forward moving narrative, but instead awash, for lack of a better word. Sort of like Bruno Schulz. Beautiful, beautiful, haunting, haunting.

Grotesque and interesting

Perhaps this is not the best thing that Peter Carey wrote, but that's not really saying much. Ah, Peter Carey, writing at length about Australia without ever resorting to cliches. If you are not Australian, I don't think you can really understand what a relief it is to read something like this about Australia. First of all, there is a nationalistic hero (nationalism and pride in (white) Australia is something so rare that the novelty is enough to sustain the entire book); secondly, the characters (including the women) are interesting and convincing; thirdly, I am completely homesick and this is so Australian; fourthly, he creates a new kind of poetry (new to me anyway). I didn't like the part about snake dancing, and the characters change too quickly (for example, Charles and Phoebe) and you kind of lose the thread. I like the way he dances about with truth, and I like the deep sadness about us losing our identity (whether or not it's true). I recognize a lot of the characters and the patterns of events from my own relatives and ancestors. I've never seen these things outside Australia, and you forget them, so thank goodness someone's documenting it all. This is so impressive if it's his first book. Read it.

Returning to Illywhacker 10 years on, it holds up nicely

I recently reread Illywhacker, and found it every bit as gripping, entertaining, and hilarious as on my first trip through the novel, over ten years ago. Crammed full of daffy but believable characters, remarkable stories, and useful details (how to transport a snake in a hessian bag, how to build your own airplane), this remains among my top-ten novels ever written.

Best book of the last 5 years.

Stunning masterpiece, and the best book written in the last five years. Herbert Badgery's life draws you in and doesn't let go. It's a book you hate to finish, with a typically bittersweet Carey ending.
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