Monday, May 01, 2006

If life is what happens when you're making other plans...

Malcolm Knox's first book, Summerland, was a brilliant debut. The story is told in real time as a man sits at his desk and writes about how his friend and his wife betrayed him - a lifetime of bitter experience between dusk and dawn.

A Private Man - I bought it in Australia, it's called Adult Book in the UK - is equally superb and an obvious development on Knox's skill - this book traverses days. Knox is a master of identifying those moments that make life important - those little things that happen while you are making other plans that change the course of a lifetime. The book is a brilliant and complex tale of life on Sydney's well mannered Upper North Shore, where being simply human is not necessarily an asset.

And now a caveat: like Summerland, it's written about the land of my childhood - not just Australia, I'm talking land so familiar to me that I recognise individual houses - so I am ultimately biased. But since it was shortlisted for the Tasmanian Pacific Fiction Prize in 2005, it can't be just me who thinks it's worth reading.

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