From Publishers Weekly
In the second volume of Bloomsbury's The Writer and the City series, Carey (Oscar and Lucinda), an Australian native, returns to Sydney after 17 years. Armed with a battery-powered tape recorder, he badgers old friends including a Vietnam vet, a lawyer and an architect to contribute stories that might define Sydney. "A metropolis is, by definition, inexhaustible, and by the time I departed, thirty days later, Sydney was as unknowable to me as it had been on that clear April morning when I arrived," Carey concludes. He deftly intertwines dry facts about climate, geography and history with poetic stream of consciousness. The result is a desultory, impressionistic love letter to the city, structured loosely around earth, air, fire and water (one friend protected his home from bush fires; another barely survived the "murderous seas of the 1998 Sydney-Hobart race" which sank six yachts and killed five men). The acclaimed Booker Prize winner lets his characters direct the story, stepping in briefly to explain ("A rissole, in case you are from across the sea, is a kind of hamburger patty, but it is also an arsehole and also an RSL [Returned Services League]") and describe ("On Bondi I feel the space everywhere, not just in the luxury of beach and light but in that imagined house two streets back where I will not have to throw a book away to make room for each new one"). Carey touches lightly but firmly on Sydney's own brand of white guilt and patriotism, as well as its culture and landmarks. While other travelogues may provide more information, this effort will leave more lasting impressions.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
From Library Journal
This second entry in Bloomsbury's promising "The Writer and the City" series (following Edmund White's The Fl neur: A Stroll Through the Paradoxes of Paris) is anything but a typical tourist guide. In fact, its subtitle best explains the author's goal: to write "a wildly distorted account." This intimate look at Sydney, written by a native who visited Australia during the Olympics in 2000 after a 17-year absence, has little practical travel advice to offer but loads of details of the many days the author spent wandering in a stupor from too much surfing during the day and too much partying at night. This presentation of Sydney as seen through the eyes of an insider rather than a tourist gives the book its undeniable charm, but it is also its weakness. Those who want to dig deep into the Aussie psyche will be richly rewarded, but those looking for advice on whether to take a tour of the Blue Mountains or cuddle a koala at a wildlife park may be disappointed. Carey is an award-winning novelist whose most recent work is True History of the Kelly Gang. Recommended for medium and large public libraries. Joseph L. Carlson, Lompoc P.L., CA
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.