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Paperback The Fat Man in History Book

ISBN: 0679743324

ISBN13: 9780679743323

The Fat Man in History

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Book Overview

If, in some post-Marxist utopia, obesity were declared counterrevolutionary, how would a houseful of fat men strike back? If it were possible to win a new body by lottery, what kind of people would choose ugliness? If two gun-toting thugs decided to take over a business--and run it through sheer terror--how far would their methods take them? These are the questions that Peter Carey, author of The Tax Inspector and Oscar and Lucinda, brilliantly explores...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

In a Parallel Universe

I will call these excellent works surreal and somewhat similar to efforts by Steven Millhauser, John Cheever and Paul Bowles. If you enjoy trips through The Twilight Zone then you'll savor these. Not for those who require strict realism.

Sick, Weird, Wild, and Wonderful

Yes, Flannery O'Connor does come to mind, but actually Carey reminds me more of Charles Bukowski or Paul Bowles. As profane as Bukowski can be, though, I think that Bukowski was much more optimistic than Carey, who seems to share Bowles' view of man as an insect. Cruel, yes, but the cruelty of nature seems to be the prevailing view here. Man is a brute, with an impulse for perverse, sadistic acts, but what makes it all tolerable is the knowledge, Carey seems to suggest, that nature finally is capable of an even greater cruelty. Man acts with the hope of having an effect, but nature's final cruelty is to show once again that oblivion will be our reward. Is it the brutality of great empty spaces that teaches such a brutal metaphysic? Perhaps. Carey is exhilarating because his imagination stabs at our greatest fear. He writes completely free of the need to please. Yes, life is horrible. We read on because, as Nietzsche argued, we are stimulated by the truth.

Short stories by Peter Carey

"The Fat Man in History" collects but a few great stories by Peter Carey. After reading a few of these stories, you won't be satisfied knowing there are more out there -- therefore the preferred and complete collection is "Collected Stories." Check out my review of Carey's "Collected Stories" here which includes all of the stories found in "The Fat Man in History." "Collected Stories" by Peter Carey. Here are the complete (26) short stories of Peter Carey in a single volume, including those collected in the books "The Fat Man in History" (Crabs, Peeling, Life & Death in the South Side Pavilion, Room No. 5 (Escribo), Happy Story, A Windmill in the West, Withdrawal, Report on the Shadow Industry, Conversations with Unicorns, American Dreams, and The Fat Man in History), "War Crimes" (The Journey of a Lifetime, Do You Love Me?, The Uses of Williamson Wood, The Last days of a Famous Mime, A Schoolboy Prank, The Chance, Fragrance of Roses, The Puzzling Nature of Blue, Kristu Du, He Found Her in Late Summer, Exotic Pleasures, and War Crimes), along with 3 previously unpublished works (Joe, Concerning the Greek Tyrant, and A Million Dollars Worth of Amphetamines). Peter Carey has risen to fame as a novelist, having gained notoriety from such works as Oscar and Lucinda (which garnered him the Booker Prize), Jack Maggs, The True History of the Kelly Gang, and My Life as a Fake. However, like most writers, his debut publications were short story collections and "Collected Stories" finds his mini-masterpieces all in one place. I started reading Carey during a brief residence in Melbourne (I'm a short story fan and was looking for an Australian writer to compliment my travels -- I think it was a travel guide that pointed me to Peter Carey). I bought "The Fat Man in History," but after being blown away by the first few stories, I returned it for the complete "Collected Stories" and never looked back. Many of the stories have a surrealistic plot, such as "Do You Love Me?" in which the work of cartographers plays a role in the dematerialization of places and people, "Life and Death in the South Side Pavilion" in which a man attempts to shepherd a group of horses that keep dying by falling into a pool of water, "Peeling" in which a man's lover unravels into nothingness, or "Exotic Pleasures" in which captivatingly beautiful birds murderously overwhelm the world. Others center on human relationships, such as "Room No. 5 (Escribo)" in which a couple traveling in a foreign land fall in love in the midst of a military coup, "Happy Story" in which a man balances his love for his girlfriend with his passion for flying, "The Uses of Williamson Wood" in which a woman confronts her abuser, and "He Found Her in Late Summer" in which a man sacrifices himself for his lover. The stories are difficult to describe further because they're not really "like" many other authors I can think of. The language and character interaction are spare but powerful (reminiscent

Exotic Pleasures, -the best short stories I've ever read

This collection of short stories from Australian author Peter Carey is daring, original,and brilliantly written. The scope of Careys imagination is awesome, and the landscape he paints for his readers is beautiful, and haunting. Extremely absorbing, they are the kind of short stories you don't want to stop reading, the characters are engaging, and the storylines always supremely entertaining. This is Ian McEwans 'In Between The Sheets" with a nightmarish twist and a slight bent towards the realm of fantasy. Careys prodigous talent is a joy to behold.

Fantastic in every sense

The twelve stories in this collection were my first introduction to Peter Carey's fiction, and I was immediately dazzled by their imaginative verve. Surreal, allegorical, sometimes chilling, sometimes magical, and often enigmatic, these are powerful works in a medium which can often be too short to make an impact. Many of the situations described in the stories are not of the concrete world we live in, but evolve with a nightmarish logic, invoking feelings that we all have experienced in dreams. Witness the "Report on the Shadow Industry" with its baffling but somehow deeply familiar description of a society buying boxes of "shadows" - are they consumable goods, or hopes, or dreams? Also fascinating is "Conversations with Unicorns", a strange fable of unicorns discovering truths about their own mortality. More disturbing still is "Life & Death in the South Side Pavilion", a surreal tale of a man minding horses, who finds that a horse dies every time he makes love, and is trapped in his situation by guilt and an unyielding authority figure. Allusions to intrusive and dominating political systems or other sorts of authority lend a sense of powerlessness and struggle to other stories including "The Fat Man in History". Overall, these stories invoke a complex and elusive mixture of feelings of yearning and despair. A perfect, intense, short introduction to the work of this author.
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