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Gould's Book Of Fish

3.9 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Bolinda Audio Books; Unabridged edition edition (1 Mar. 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1740946057
  • ISBN-13: 978-1740946056
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews
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Product description

Amazon Review

With a title such as Gould's Book of Fish, Richard Flanagan's Commonwealth Prize-winning third novel, expect something wonderfully slippery and self-conscious from one of the finest talents to have emerged from Australia since Peter Carey. Like Carey's True History of the Kelly Gang, Flanagan has written a history of a lost colonial voice--that of William Buelow Gould, a "pathetick forger, this drunkard trying his best to be on the make" who in the 1820s was sentenced to hard labour on the brutal penal colony of Sarah Island, "a silver sea monster of fable rearing its terrible head" off the coast of Van Dieman's Land--present-day Tasmania.

Finding himself at the mercy of a brutal and insane colonial regime that indulges its bizarre fantasies whatever the cost to the inmates, Gould finds himself commissioned to paint fish indigenous to the island. Gould's beautiful book of fish survives to this day, and his pictures are part of the exquisite design of Flanagan's book, which attempts to reproduce the original feel of Gould's book. But this is the novel's last connection to reality. Gould's fish, with their "coloring & surfaces & translucent fins suggest the very reason and riddle of life". Gould begins to realise that "a fish is a truth", and gradually his own pictures become a point of resistance to the ruthless classification and surveillance that characterises life on the penal colony. The book is a picaresque fantasy that encompasses art, science, empire and commerce, as well as sex, murder, liberation, castration, bestiality and a whole host of even more unlikely topics. The writing is extraordinary--luminous, sinewy, at times hilarious, often gruesome. Sometimes Flanagan goes too far, as his linguistic pyrotechnics feel like a parody of Sterne or Rabelais, but there can be no doubt that Gould's Book of Fish is a marvellously ambitious novel from a writer with enviable raw talent. --Jerry Brotton --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

Review

"A masterpiece" (The Times)

"Flanagan's masterpiece" (Washington Post)

"Lyrical and hilarious, tender and wildly angry by turns, it dazzlingly reconceives the form of the novel" (Observer)

"Gould's Book of Fish is a novel about fish in the way that Moby-Dick is a novel about whales, Ulysses is a novel about the events of a single day" (New York Times)

"A vivid, voluptuous, exhilarating writer" (Sunday Telegraph)

"Hugely original... Passages burn with the intense pleasure of story-making, of the abandon that comes from a seething of ideas and their joyful mutation into words" (Alex Clark Guardian)

"A seamless masterpiece of the grotesque" (Independent on Sunday)

"Outstanding" (Robert Macfarlane Spectator)

"As beautiful to look at as it was enthralling to read" (Independent)

"Hugely involving, clever, witty and tender" (Metro) --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERon 27 November 2002
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