Reviews in 200 Words

His Illegal Self by Peter Carey

In Novel on September 10, 2009 at 11:43 pm

There’s a lot going on here: It’s 1972 and Che is 7-years-old; he constantly longs to know his parents; he lives with his grandmother in NYC and is denied much access to the outside world. When an odd young woman, “Dial,” shows up—literally walks into the apartment—Che takes to her and they’re off. As the “kidnapping” shows up on the news, Dial and Che retreat to Australia where they end up in a hostile commune. Take a breath. Carey’s descriptions, often through Che’s wide-eyes, are stark at times, and other times extended, but always with a distinct angle of light. “Then came a noise without meaning, like a giant Mexican tin crow flapping its wings against the walls.” There is an apocalyptic feel: a mix between McCarthy’s The Road and Clint Eastwood’s A Perfect World. Put the book down when you need to; Carey will wait, and when you return, he’ll hit you with, “Vomiting was ugly; shameful, mixed up with his feelings about soggy Uno cards and seeds. He told the cat he was sorry for the smell. The trees were wide apart here. They had twisted grey corded bark, different birds were high up in their khaki canopies, but there was another noise, like water, maybe wind.”

  1. I love Peter Carey–The True History of the Kelly Gang is an all time favorite.

  2. His descriptions in this book were staggering.

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