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30 Days in Sydney: A Wildly Distorted Account Paperback – Bargain Price, October 14, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

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.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; Reprint edition (October 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1596915692
  • ASIN: B0046LUWSY
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,205,264 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Foster Corbin TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Peter Carey spent 30 days in Sydney in 2000 and we readers are the lucky recipients of his account. He clearly loves Sydney and demonstrates this love in every page of this little volume. His love is contagious. For example, on viewing what he calls "the great Pacific Ocean," he writes: "It is one of a hundred places you will find in Sydney which take your breath away, and I, familiar but disoriented, was in a state of constant amazement that any metropolis could be so blesssed." He also obviously cares deeply for his friends who still live there. About his friend Jack Ledoux he says: "I have lived in more than one house Jack has designed and would be a happy man if I could wake up in one tomorrow morning and live in it all my life. Every time I walk into one of his constructions, it makes me happy." What an extraordinary way to describe a friend!
Mr. Carey sets out to describe this great city in terms of earth, air, fire and water. He does this by having several zany friends of his-- some of them friends of thirty years-- tell their stories. Any one of these characters ought to be found in a novel, at least one of Mr. Carey's. In his hands they become flesh and blood and as interesting as the city they describe. Good stuff jumps out on every page. Mr. Carey admits that he cannot drive over Sydney's famous bridge without having a panic attack, a fact that is particularly significant to me since I suffer from the same problem with high bridges. Then there is the delicious account of the word "Eternity" and the little man responsible for writing the word everywhere or anywhere he felt his God called him to write it.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Anne on January 31, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a good read for Aussie expats, not least because the author is one of Australia�s more prominent contemporary literary figures, staging a return visit to Sydney from his current home in New York. Aussies living in America will probably be tuned into the way observations of one country are used to shed light on the other, the extra explanations he is obliged to include for either culture, as well was the exercise of reacquainting oneself with one�s place of origin and trying to come to grips with its history and character. On occasion the author�s own brand of cronyism (men relive their exploits or otherwise act out their mid life crises) is a bit irksome, but then he is well aware of such potential gripes and fends them off within the book (�Mate, you�re making a big mistake talking to all these men. You�re ignoring the women��). In all, he spins a good yarn, and the final pages will have you heaving on the open seas at the mouth of the Hawkesbury River.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stephen A. Haines HALL OF FAME on July 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Any attempt to girdle a city within literature is doomed by the complexity and expanse of the topic. Carey delays this admission until the end, although by then his feelings are clear. Living and writing in New York City, only a deep inland residence could give him greater setting for contrast. His comparison with his current home is limited to the cramped quarters he endures there. Yet this limited contrast imparts the theme and import of this personal summary. Little of this book is about Australia's key city. Instead, the majority of Carey's essays here describe the Harbour, the Blue Mountains, the Pacific Coast, the Bridge and rivers. The characters are a melange of his personal friends and historical figures. There is a mystical episode on the Harbour Bridge and a passing critique of the CBD [Central Business District] and the values of those working there. The theme remains that the City is but one location in a region of contrasts. No other city is placed so uniquely. Perhaps no-one is better suited to attempt this unique task.
Many cities rejoice in their history, but in this, too, Sydney is special. Founded as a convict colony, it grew into a major Pacific port. Survival was a struggle with poor soil, vagaries of rain and wind and the presence of the Aborigine population - issues that urbanisation hides but cannot eliminate. Sensing its importance early, Sydney girted the Harbour with forts, something Carey lightly applauds when old forts become new parks. Carey conveys the sense of struggle, but time has transformed equal starving of convicts and guards to ideals of social equality - so long as that society is white, he reminds us. His "distorted view" imparts his dissenting view on relations with displaced Aborigines, among other topics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Eric Maroney on May 13, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
Peter Carey hits a good number of solid beats in his 30 Days in Sydney: A Wildly Distorted Account. The book is written from Carey’s perspective as an expat Australian (he now lives in New York) so it is has the detached yet attached feel of the writer both at home with his people and land and yet alienated.

This perch enables Carey to visit old friends and landscapes and make new connections and interpretations about the Australian past, present and future.

As a travel book in this genre, from this angle, Carey delivers what he promises as a writer.
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