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Spotted Lily Paperback – August 19, 2005

4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This shocker from Australian author Tambour (Monterra's Deliciosa & Other Tales &) about a 20ish down under Faustess who sells her soul to the devil (aka Brett Hartshorn) for lasting literary fame and fortune may well strike some like a bracing tonic and others like something a lot less palatable. Having fled her Wooronga bush station home, Angela Pendergast takes her B.A. and M.A. in English at Sydney University and predictably goes walkabout, works at a bank and for five years pours out her dreams of authorship in journals until Brett appears during what he calls "pledge week." Her ensuing adventures with her behorned and betailed Byronic companion take them to Prague, Bali, New York and finally back to Wooronga. Tambour's racy, florid style achieves some witty one-liners, like Hartshorn's breakfast of heart tartare au jus Masai, but Angela's devil-sent humiliations too often verge on the off-puttingly scatological. Angela's loosely connected "adventures" also feel contrived until she returns to the bush she realizes too late she loves, whimpering over the death of her dreams. (July)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From the Publisher

" . . . a wicked, thoroughly unpredictable romp . . . Spotted Lily might just be a particularly inventive comic take on wish-fulfillment, but soon enough it strays far from the beaten path . . . a dizzying but delightful journey through old myths and modern chaos, turning Faust and Pygmalion on their ear as it cuts its own path toward something like self-knowledge."—Faren Miller, Locus

Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Wildside Press (August 19, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0809544830
  • ISBN-13: 978-0809544837
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,396,755 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Vera Nazarian on April 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
SPOTTED LILY is a remarkable novel of dark satire. It is brutal and terrifying. It is painful and beautiful. It is profound and I think it has the makings of a classic. This is far from an easy read, and it is not commercial -- it simply cannot be, not with the nature of themes it explores: god is dead and ultimate ennui.

Herein lies a peculiar, resonant, and bitter combination of Bulgakov's THE MASTER AND MARGARITA, a very adult version of Philip Pullman's HIS DARK MATERIALS, and frequent touches of Kafka and Marquez's ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE.

The satire is dark and biting and yet it is the pathos of Angela that got to me, her humanism and vulnerabily and the subtle nature of the fragile self and self-image hell (on earth!) she wallows in -- it broke my heart.

The novel is steeped in a succession of naturalist and surreal details -- sensual, beautiful/ugly dissonance and erotic fetish, frequently shocking and supremely memorable. There is loss of dignity and the redemption of self, over and over; a dance.

And the Australian heart is there -- I who have never been to Australia feel that now I have; the Bush is IMPRINTED upon me. Her childhood home, the secret place her father wept... flowers placed in ordinary jam jars to bloom in small private wonder.

The journey of Angela is ultimately an amazing piece of pshychological portraiture. And her deal with the Devil is merely the tip of the iceberg.

This is, to me, a work of literary significance, far transcending the boundaries of genre of the fantastic -- Anna Tambour makes an amazing novel debut.
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Format: Paperback
Anna Tambour's first novel is funny, moving, and true. At the open it seems set to be a satirical account of a somewhat aimless young woman's deal with the devil, and as such it is funny enough. But along the way -- or more probably, from the start, did we but know it -- it becomes an affecting look at an Australian woman's discovery of herself. Oh, and a love story too. With plenty of erotic imagery -- but with most of the actual eroticism suppressed.

Angela Pendergast is a 30ish Australian woman who has moved from her family's ranch in the bush to the big city. She wants to be a Writer, specifically a Bestselling Writer, but she finds it hard to actually get down to writing her Novel. Put simply, she wants to Have Written, not to write. She has a part-time job at a New Age bookstore, and she lives in a house with a few roommates.

Then the Devil shows up. He wants to be the new roomer -- but more than that, he offers her a deal. He'll write her Novel, a guaranteed bestseller. In exchange, of course, for the usual.

So far, so relatively normal. But both Angela and the Devil, whom she names Brett Hartshorn, aren't quite such simple characters. Soon Brett is immersing himself in human literature, trying to decide what makes a bestseller. (Before too long he lights on Barbara Cartland, and who can argue?) Meanwhile Angela is being remade as a glamorous Author, which amounts to accepting her curviness as loveliness, and to abandoning herself to the ministrations of a couple of fashion advisers. Which is a bad description of that portion of the book -- the "advisers" aren't conventionally portrayed at all, and Angela (now called Desir?e Lily) is quite a different "Author".

But the book has further twists and turns.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Reading SPOTTED LILY is like coming across a new species of creature which is immediately notable for its many unusual features. It has a weird manoeuvrability that occasionally shocks with its sudden bouts of unsightliness. But it is also perfectly adaptable to the terrain it explores, showing a startling tendency to slither and dash and slither again with an impressive elasticity and ease of pace that is wholly mesmerising.

It is a provocative creature, too, and, for this reason, is liable to provoke different responses in different readers. With its sinuous prose, delicious grossness, furious dialogues and unpredictable twists and turns, it is a lesson in extremity. But it is equally, also, a novel that explores the mundane terrors and pleasures of life to tremendous effect.

It is, too, full of a gritty poignancy that tugs at the heart strings with rugged force rather than sentimentality; and its tendency to make the normal seem bizarre and the bizarre seem normal is, by now, a trademark feature of Tambour's work.

This is a book for those who like their details raw and fiction raucous; who are less enthused by the introspective meanderings of more evenly wrought character-based plots -- who prefer, instead, the charm of being suspended in a flux of ambiguities that are the residue of experiences not easily defined.

Forget, also, any hollow reproduction of the Faustian motif, with its moral dialectic of good versus evil, greed versus righteousness, covetousness versus humility. There is no coming to terms in a religious sense but a full concentration on the virtues of the material as opposed to the moral universe; and the consequences are as fascinating as they are extremely funny.
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