Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Carpentaria by Alexis Wright

Carpentaria is Alexis Wright's second novel, an epic set in the Gulf Country of north-western Queensland.

The novel's portrait of life in the precariously settled coastal town of Desperance, centres on the powerful Phantom family, leader of the Westend Pricklebush people, and its battles with old Joseph Midnight's renegade Eastend mob on the one hand and the white officials of Uptown, and on the neighbouring Gurfurrit mine on the other.

Wright's storytelling is operatic and surreal: a blend of myth and scripture, politics and farce. The novel teems with extraordinary characters - the outcast saviour Elias Smith, the religious zealot Mozzie Fishman, the murderous mayor Bruiser, the moth-ridden Captain Nicoli Finn, the activist Will Phantom, and above all, the rulers of the family, the queen of the rubbish dump and the fish embalming king of time, Angel Day and Normal Phantom - figures of such an intense imagining, they stand like giants in this storm-swept world.

I am torturing myself!

I have pretty much decided that I am going to stop reading this book that I am struggling with. I have been reading it for what feels like an eternity, but in reality is only 5 days. Normally I can read a 500 page book in 3 days - with this one I am only 200 pages in.

What I am struggling with is that I should just return the book, but I can't help but think that I should reborrow it and try again later? I can only think of 3 books that I have put down in the last couple of years with no intention of ever finishing....and each one was a dilemma for me!

It is an added dilemma that this was the winner of the Miles Franklin Literary Award which is one of the most illustrious literature award in Australia, so I should like it....right?

So for now, this is a DNF. There's no guarantee that I won't try again at another time.


  1. Oh, I hate when that happens, especially when it's a book that you thought you should like.

    Plus, there's just something unfair about a book you're not enjoying taking so much longer to read than one you enjoy.

  2. Don't stress, Marg! If you can't get into it, I say move on. No sense struggling through something you're not enjoying.

  3. There are so many really good books in the world and every book is not for every person. I say forget about it and read something else.

  4. Stop torturing yourself! I'm getting much more ruthless about books I discard 1/2 way through, life's too short to waste on a book that doesn't appeal to you.