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Fredy Neptune: A Novel In Verse Paperback – Jan 10 2000


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Jan. 10 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374526761
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374526764
  • Product Dimensions: 23 x 15 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 408 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #989,677 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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Amazon.com: 12 reviews
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
the man with blank senses Nov. 8 2001
By Jose J Olivo - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
This is an odd book; even down to its dimensions.
It's taller than average...a good thing if you plan to travel with it. I dunno, some things just carry easier.
As for the content, all I can say is it sometimes carries the same tune as Bukowski in his rare "sensitive" moments, when the ugly monster disappears and is replaced by something far more palatable. I bought the book at a bookstore blowout, when all that was left were Road Atlas's, How To books and posters of various 'has beens' and 'what-nots'.
There it was, completely ignored on the shelf, and probably because as the title suggests, it's completely in verse.
It's not in rhyming verse though, which is a plus for those of us who are annoyed by musicals and slant rhymes.
One bit of irony is that while the book is about a man who has lost his ability to "feel", both literally and figuratively in some cases, it is extremely sensuous and is able to condense into one verse what a regular novel would take pages to resolve.
The book is dark, gritty and you can smell the stink of the various docks and ship holds and whores our hero meets on his travels.
Hell, I'm raving about it and I haven't even finished it yet. I take it with me while I'm sucking down coffee, and there are various markings and underlinings and cheap tea stains all over it; I suspect that I will destroy this book before I reach the final page, which is fine, because I really don't want it to end, which sounds rather childish, even sophomoric.
Whatever.
I'll be searching for more of Murray's work. I would give you a verse but it wouldn't do the whole any justice whatsover.
It sings like "The Man Without Qualities", and in fact has alot in common with that book. They just "feel" the same. I know, Bukowski, Musil? There's more, but I don't want to risk anymore comparisons.
Email me if you have nothing better to do with your time, and think you want to wrestle with idiots.
Jose[f] Olivo
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
amusing, amazing, definitely worth it July 1 1999
By Lisa Sharp Borger - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
i would be less than honest if i said i was not daunted by the prospect of reading a novel in verse. many were the times when i had to reread passages to catch the drift. there was a considerable amount of aussie argot that needed getting used to. but i remember struggling at first with homer and the odessey( there is a striking resemblance to this ancient work in terms of this book's morality) and figured it was worth doing. the mother in law will teach you forbearance, laura is steadfast and truly honest. saving the best for last, the last book and indeed the last pages are a true climax to what you hoped would be the great end to this novel. have a go!!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Moby Dicked Jan. 19 2009
By David Schweizer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
It's tough out there. Don't be fooled; given the chance, our fellow man is a brute with a night stick. Les Murray paints a Hobbesian world and takes the reader on a global ride to prove his point. It begins in Turkey with the sight of women being burned alive and ends in Dresden and Hiroshima. The killing and cruelty never end. Man's senses are geared to sniffing out outsiders and making them sorry they ventured outside their allotted doghouse. At the end of Fredy's odyssey through the twentieth century's killing machine, which includes Europe, America and Asia, we learn that the exploitation of man by man is the only universal worth talking about. Stalinism, Hitlerism and other isms of liberation are just cover for atrocity-making at the hands of goons in the employ of the state. Fredy learns and simultaneously teaches the lessons of the century. It's always better to stay home. This novel in verse is Homeric in every sense of the word; the writing is superb. Murray has all the tools of the English language well in hand; his is a Shakespearean talent, equal to best novelists of our time, with the added genius of the poet. Compression is the key; in the hands of the magical realists this would be a 3000 page, 10-volume monster of unreadable prose. One is dazzled not only by the verbal dexterity and wit, but one basks in the glow of wisdom. Fredy is never taken in by the century's cant; his is an Orwellian cast of mind, always on the alert for words that justify killing. His is a moral conscience equal to our greatest poets: Dante, Goethe, and Shakespeare. What is evil, he asks? He can't say, but he knows it when he sees it.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Odyssean Myth for the Twentieth Century Feb. 6 2005
By Gary Clark - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
`Fredy Neptune' is a rare thing. It is one of the great democratic novels of the twentieth century, paralleling `Ulysses' in its sense of the ordinary and reverence for the everyday. And like Joyce's masterpiece, it is Homeric in its sense of suffering, exile and homecoming. Yet the homecoming, in `Fredy Neptune', is more psychological and existential than geographical.

The main character, a German Australian sailor witnesses the murder of a group of Armenian women during the Turkish genocide of 1915. He suffers profound moral shock and loses all sense of feeling, both bodily and psychologically. After rescuing a Jewish man and a handicapped boy from Hitler's racial hygiene program, Fredy stumbles across an idea that will heal his fragmented condition; he must `forgive the victim'. Why? This is Murray's response to current ethical imperatives. He can only heal himself, can only return from the traumatic seas of psychic dissociation, if he comes to terms with the voice of conscience. Fredy forgives the victims of history, who include Jews, women and Aborigines, for they linger like a moral irritant in his mind. Once he has forgiven them he begins to `pray with a whole heart' and the process of re-integration with his body begins.

Readers interested in Murray's other poetry will find 'Fredy Neptune' is resonant with his collection of autobiographical poetry `Killing the Black Dog', which also contains a revealing essay by the author. The parallels between `Fredy Neptune' and Murray's personal history are illuminating. `Fredy Neptune' is arguably one of the major works of 20c poetry.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Novel in verse is appealing Feb. 11 2007
By Dan Redican - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Writing a novel in verse is a diffidult task. I've been reading a few lately and there seem to be a few ways to go about it. One way to do it is embodied by Golden Gate, by Vikram Seth which is modeled on Eugene Onegin by Pushkin. Both novels have an emphatic style, clear rhyming pattern, iambic tetrameter that allows the story to bounce along. This is a very satisfying and energetic read, but the repetitive patterns will become wearing for a lot of readers, particularly those who are not familiar with reading exteneded verse. (but then the words "novel in verse" should act as some sort of warning for you. Hard to complain when that's printed on the cover)

The other way to approach it is to follow the more "vers libre" route, where the sense of poetry is more framed by a "poetic mindset" than by outside structure. I think of Catherine Cookson or of History:The Home Movie which become oblique, idiosyncratic - the story becomes a poem because of its sketchiness, its odd imagery, its refusal to be story driven.

Fredy Neptune is somewhere between the two. The regular 8 line stanzas give a sense of structure, the pounding metrical stresses drive home the sense of poetry, the now-you-see-it-now-you-don't rhyming structures and alliterations provide odd satisfactions of their own, that remind you occassionally that you are reading poetry, without ever getting precious, distracting or boring.

The story is of a man who witnesses a world war one atrocity and who becomes physically numb. At first he seems to be a leper, but after a time he becomes a superman, possessed of increased strength and healing abilities. This allegorical condition (the numbness of being removed from one's own life feels like something I've experienced) allows him to follow life as a numb husband and father, emotionally touched by people, but not properly feeling his own responses to life and situations. He occassionally comes back into the world as a feeling person, before slilpping away again into wooden nervelessness.

It's an engaging and constantly evolving story, sometimes emotionally disturbing, sometimes frustrating in terms of the obstacles that life throws up for the hero. There were a few times, paritcularly at the beginning where I drifted off and lost the story, but that's often a danger of verse, which is prone to sometimes draw attention to its sounds more than its sense. Still, the novel is possessed of good energetic diction which can be a real pleasure to reread.

If you do end up reading and liking it, I would recommend also Tiepolo's Hound by Derek Walcott (sp?) and Puskin's Eugene Onegin. Also Orlando Furioso by Ludovico Arriosto. Tiepolo's hound is kind of difficult to follow at points, but it is a work of genious,. perhaps more of an extended narrative poem than a novel in verse. Orlando Furioso is a page turner, both an example of romantic chivalry and a satire of it. Onegin is funny, insightful and engaging. These three books are work of genius. If you ask me.

Which you didn't.

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