Illywacker Mass Market Paperback – Jun 3 1985
|New from||Used from|
No Kindle device required. Download one of the Free Kindle apps to start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, and computer.
To get the free app, enter your e-mail address or mobile phone number.
From Publishers Weekly
First published in 1985, this picaresque tale from Australian novelist Carey presents the life story of a highly unreliable 139-year-old con man.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
Carey can spin a yarn with the best of them.... Illywhacker is a big, garrulous, funny novel.... If you haven't been to Australia, read Illywhacker. It will give you the feel of it like nothing else I know." -- The New York Times Book ReviewIn Australian slang, an illywhacker is a country fair con man, an unprincipled seller of fake diamonds and dubious tonics. And Herbert Badgery, the 139-year-old narrator of Peter Carey's uproarious novel, may be the king of them all. Vagabond and charlatan, aviator and car salesman, seducer and patriarch, Badgery is a walking embodiment of the Australian national character -- especially of its proclivity for tall stories and barefaced lies.As Carey follows this charming scoundrel across a continent and a century, he creates a crazy quilt of outlandish encounters, with characters that include a genteel dowager who fends off madness with an electric belt and a ravishing young girl with a dangerous fondness for rooftop trysts. Boldly inventive, irresistibly odd, Illywhacker is further proof that Peter Carey is one of the most enchanting writers at work in any hemisphere."A book of awesome breadth, ambition, and downright narrative joy.... Illywhacker is a triumph." -- Washington Post Book World --This text refers to the Paperback edition.See all Product Description
Top Customer Reviews
However, this book has garnered many awards, and wide critical acclaim, and I don't see why. Many people say it is symbolic of Australian culture and history. Perhaps I, as an American who hasn't even been to Australia, don't know enough about Australian history to fully read Herbert Badgery as a stand-in for Australia itself, or to catch the many historical references that Carey has probably hidden in the book. Yet my position is likely similar to that of most of Carey's prospective readers; he cannot assume a deep knowledge of Australian history from someone who is just picking up the book as a pleasure read. Maybe I will give the book another try, this time explicitly trying to dissect it as an analogy and as "great literature." Right now, I can only see it as a pleasurable and fairly simple read.
In summary, this is a highly entertaining novel, even if its headier aspects are lost on many readers. Carey is a long-winded storyteller, but a very funny one, and the interweaving plot of Badgery, his mythical airplane factory, and the people who surround him is engaging and humorous.
Illywhacker is, on one level, a highly absorbing story about a born liar and showman and his varied life across southeastern Australia during the twentieth century. But on a deeper level, Illywhacker is a complex allegory about Australia itself, with interwoven and tangled images of cages, the uses and abuses of lying, Australia's search for itself vs. the UK and US, Australian animals, and Australia's simultaneous entanglement with and rejection of the Asian cultures with which it coexists. The result is a complicated, thoughtful, and even disturbing portrait of a maturing Australia that has made me reassess my own view of the country. Read Illywhacker! for the amusing liar's tale, read Illywhacker for the thoughtful commentary on Australia's national self-consciousness and insecurity -- but either way, read it!
The only disappointment is the writing itself. Sometimes painfully difficult to read, it is mundane and long-winded, full of unnecessary passages and incidents. None of the characters are highly sympathetic, and the reader never feels involved in their lives. And while the themes concerned are almost all interesting, he dwells relentlessly on many of them and they lose their novelty.
A book not for the easily frustrated, it is so weakly-written and mundane that it is easy to lose sight of the originality and insight that lies beneath the surface.
Most recent customer reviews
Had Illywhacker been my first encounter with Carey, I would likely have enjoyed it more. But I've read Bliss. And Bliss is brilliant. Read morePublished on Jan. 4 2000 by Steve Gold
I hate to confess this, but this is one of those books I read and enjoyed on the surface level, but whose more meaningful level I did not understand at all. Read morePublished on Aug. 30 1999 by A. Ross
I very much enjoyed reading this novel. The robust prose, the thoughtful characterizations, the bursts of poetry, and the sustained pride in being a (white) Australian were all... Read morePublished on April 20 1999
I recently reread Illywhacker, and found it every bit as gripping, entertaining, and hilarious as on my first trip through the novel, over ten years ago. Read morePublished on Oct. 13 1998
Stunning masterpiece, and the best book written in the last five years. Herbert Badgery's life draws you in and doesn't let go. Read morePublished on Oct. 3 1998