Parrot and Olivier in America
It’s been interesting speaking to people who’ve read the piece, not least because it’s difficult to escape the feeling Carey’s burned through some of his goodwill in recent years. The reasons for that seem to be complex – certainly there’s a view the last few books have been a bit patchy – but I also suspect changing literary fashion has left his brand of big, rough-hewn post-modernity looking a little awkward in the contemporary landscape (I’d say something similar about Doctorow and Rushdie, though I have to say I think Carey’s streets ahead of either of them). Of course that’s always a problem for writers as distinctive as Carey, but I do hope it won’t stop readers seeking out this new one, not least because it’s his best book in years, and definitely up there with early masterpieces like Illywhacker. Nor am I alone in this judgement: in Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald Andrew Reimer calls it a tour de force (not online), and Jennifer Byrne says something similar in Saturday’s Age.
And if you’re interested in reading more about Carey you might like to check out this piece I wrote for Meanjin a while back. It’s a bit long in the tooth these days but it’s got some good moments.