After the Fire, a Still Small Voice Audio CD – Audiobook, 2 Jan 2011
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|Audio CD, Audiobook, 2 Jan 2011||
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Just sometimes, a book is so complete, so compelling and potent, that you are fearful of breaking its hold. This is one: a novel about (as its title might suggest) devastating damage and the humanity that, almost unfathomably, remains...with awesome skill and whiplash wit, Evie Wyld knits together past and present, with tension building all the time. In Peter Carey and Tim Winton, Australia has produced two if the finest storytellers working today. On this evidence, Wyld can match them both (Stephanie Cross Daily Mail)
Ravishingly atmospheric and wisely compassionate, this somber, ambitious first novel attempts to net more sorrows, secrets, and horrors than it can hold, but there's no doubt that Wyld is a writer of immense abilities and depth (Booklist)
At times startling, Wyld's book is ruminative and dramatic, with deep reserves of empathy colored by masculine rage and repression (Publisher's Weekly)
A terrifically self-assured debut. (Guardian)
Wyld has a feel both for beauty and for the ugliness of inherited pain. (New Yorker) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
It's not just about generations of men affected by war. It's about men everywhere. For any man who's ever felt like an emotional fence post, this is the book for you. I enjoyed it enormously. - Giles Foden
'Intense. Wyld is an absolutely brilliant prose writer. The first chapter is so acute, poetic but not self-consciously literary and all in service to the characters. A fantastically-written novel. But gripping, it works almost as a mystery. Incredibly realistic about men and the trouble they have expressing themselves. - Boyd Hilton, BBC Radio 5 Live
Splendid. There's a point where you realise if you're confident in a writer. For me it was page five. From that point on, I knew I would go anywhere with this author. The book has an incredible, quiet confidence in its own prose. It never raises its voice. I just ate it up. There were two brilliant Australian novels I read this year by Tim Winton and Steve Toltz, which got a huge amount of attention. This is equally good. A masterful piece of writing.- Joel Morris, BBC Radio 5 live --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
The reason I deduct a star is because sometimes you have to really concentrate to keep up with the fast introduction of many characters at the same time and the fact that the main characters jump location frequently.
I would definitely read another book by this author though, didn't expect the connection at the end and thought the way you are left to make your own conclusions was clever rather than frustrating which can often be the case.
Ostensibly following three generations of men, we see how war damages not only the combatants but also their families. Told in two sets of interleaving chapters, we find Frank Collard fleeing a normal life in Canberra (can one actually have a normal life in Canberra?) for a cabin on the coast. He seems to be unfussed about mod-cons, is in no hurry to get to know his new neighbours, and doesn’t seem to have much of a gameplan. He seems to have some family history in the area but it’s not quite clear what that might be. And in the other set of chapters, we meet Leon, initially a young boy helping out in his parents’ cake shop, watch as his father Roman heads off to fight in Korea, and then travel with Leon to Viet Nam.
The problem I had was that the two narratives did not seem to have enough connection. It’s interesting that this should feel the case because, unlike some novels of interleaved narratives, the connection seems fairly clear – although sometimes appearances can be deceiving… No, the real issue is that apart from bridal figures sculpted from sugar, there is very little continuity or commonality to the two stories. In one, men go to war. In the other, a man runs away from his wife and his life.
The stories themselves have some good detailing, but they are pretty slow and don’t seem to be balanced or paced quite right. The human drama is confined to a few pages of each narrative with large amounts of meandering. In Frank’s narrative, when the drama actually starts it gets quite confusing and it’s not clear – to this reader at least – exactly what his motivation is for a somewhat bizarre three day escapade. In truth, I never really believed in any of the characters – either the main ones or the supporting cast. If there was one high point, it was Sal, the bright and lively girl who lived next door to Frank and seemed determined to put some kind of a backbone into him.
I don’t think After The Fire is a bad novel, but it feels clumsy compared to Evie Wyld’s far superior second novel: All The Birds Singing.
The first of the men we meet is Frank. Having recently given up his life in Canberra after a rather rocky relationship he has moved to his Grandparents shack by the sea in an attempt to hide away from the world which he will have to live off, though in the end the world won't remain hidden, neighbours will be friendly, and he will need money and so takes a part time job in the local marina. Franks a tough character and as we get to know him better and the story of his youth, though he is only in his twenties roughly, you gain an insight into why.
Leon is the second male character. We meet him in his youth in a town, where his family are looked down on for being immigrants, as he learns the trade of his father's cake shop which when his father is sent to fight in Korea he must take over until his father comes back. Once his father returns he is a changed man and adds additional strain to the family home leaving Leon in charge for good. Only Leon himself then gets conscripted to fight in the Vietnam War and like his father the affects of war change him forever.
This makes the book sound quite simplistic and it's not the case as Wyld throws in quite a few other plots such as a delightful romance for Leon and a wonderful tale of a little girl breaking through Frank's tough exterior. To say anymore would simply give too much away. I thought that is was remarkable that Wyld gets so deeply into two male lead characters, especially with two such complex, emotionally scarred and sometimes quite dislikeable characters. I wasn't sure this book would be for me for the first two chapters and then I was hooked and read it in three sittings. Through these two men's viewpoints I went on an emotion filled journey through loss, love, war, discrimination, and also most importantly I felt, hope.
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