Monday, June 30, 2008

Outback quest for insight - review from The Australian, Saturday June 28.

Murray Bail - Text Publishing - A$34.95

MURRAY Bail's wry and quirky oeuvre has always been about seeing. In novels, short stories and commentary on the visual arts, he plays continually with vision -- the ability to perceive -- as an individual aptitude and as a defining national characteristic. Cultural blindness, the inability to see ourselves and others, has humoured and energised him.

The Pages, Bail's first novel in 10 years (after Eucalyptus), focuses on realms beyond the visual: philosophy and psychoanalysis. When the philosophy department at a stuffy Sydney university hears that unpublished philosopher Wesley Antill (scion of a wealthy pastoralist family out west) has left in his will an endowment for the publication of his lifetime work, lecturer Erica Hazelhurst is sent to assess his collected manuscripts.

To accompany her on the 700km trip across the Blue Mountains and past West Wyalong (even farther west than the setting for Eucalyptus), stolid Erica invites her flighty psychoanalyst friend Sophie Perloff.
Two city women, single, career secure, relationship vulnerable, roughly middle-aged, overly analytical and brittle, they attract and repulse each other, and everyone else they contact, in alarming and amusing ways.

No comments: