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Illywhacker Paperback – 5 Jun 2014

3.9 out of 5 stars 12 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (5 Jun. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571311563
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571311569
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 3.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 554,303 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

The funniest novel of the year. (The Times)

It is impossible to convey the cumulative brilliance and accelerating hilarity of the prose. (London Review of Books)

Carey can spin a yarn with the best of them . . . Illywhacker is a big, garrulous, funny novel, touching, farcical and passionately bad-tempered. (Howard Jacobson New York Times)

The delight in physical detail, the forward rush of the narrative, nearly concealing the slyly perfect rhythm of Carey's sentences... I would do anything to have written them. (Nell Freudenberger Independent)

Book Description

Illywhacker, from twice winner of the Booker Prize Peter Carey, is a picaresque tale of one man's exploits across the Australian continent.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Illywhacker is an Australian word for a con-man. The books' illywhacker, and narrator, is Herbert Badgery, who suffers the fate of many dishonest people. Writing from his old age of 139, he weaves us an extraordinary tale of his life as reptile catcher, car salesman and aviator. A chinaman teaches him how to become invisible, a useful skill when out in the bush. His aviation attracts him a lovely wife, but married life is less than satisfactory, ending in tragedy. And so we move on to the life of his son, sent off as a student to the big city, consorting with communists and jews, and then setting up as a pet shop to make ends meet. The tragedy carries on.
Within the context of the book, we find ourselves asking how much of this conman's story is "true". It leaves you wondering, and that is really the key to the book.
Its a toss-up whether my favourite Australian novel is this, or Tim Winton's Cloudstreet. In both books, the Australian accent jumps off the page at you. Among Carey's other books, my literary friends prefer Oscar and Lucinda, perhaps because it is more perfectly formed, a typical Booker Prize winner. But I find Illywhacker funnier, more exciting, more original.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Herbert Badgery, the "hero" of this family saga, is a character who uses his intelligence and cunning to sort of survive over a life span of 139 years - if you believe his story. And should you? Bits of it; but which bits? He's a quick learner, but he always aims a bit off centre at the wrong targets. His son, a big awkward character, has a particular vision, is much too honest and open, but experiences an extreme mixture of achievement and deep disappointment.

Only Terry Gilliam could make a film of this. It's a mixture of Australian epic, comedy and heart rending tragedy.
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When is a long book not too long? When you get half way through and have no desire for it to end. In Illywhacker the imaginative Mr Carey takes his characters through (at least) three generations of Australian history. The characters aren't all plausible - which is part of the fun - but the historical backdrop is, which provides a great structure for this entertaining story. I can never understand why Carey's average reviews are not higher, as he is undoubtedly one of the best novelists writing today, but, as Herbert Badgery would probably say, there's no accounting for taste.
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Format: Paperback
Carey, Peter. Illywhacker

From the outset the reader is aware that he is being led on by a con-man, for Carey makes it plain on the cover that his narrator, Herbert Badgery ‘is a terrible liar and always has been.’ Moreover in the novel’s epigraph Carey cites dictionary definitions of the Australian word ‘Illywhacker’ indicating its meaning as variously ‘professional trickster,’ ‘trickster or spieler,’ ‘one who wacks the illy,’ ‘peter tickler’ and ‘eeler spee.’ So the book craves wary walking. The reader is at once seduced into the world of Herbert Badgery, a man aged139 who is famous for being a physical wreck. Strangely one more or less believes him, especially when he speaks of his internal workings, which leaves him ‘like some old squid lying on the beach.’ He tells us ‘I didn’t read a book until an age when most men are going blind.’ By the time he was in Rankin Downs gaol he was known as ‘The Professor.’
I picked up this book in Poundland. It was the solitary copy, lonely on a shelf of random leftovers. The back cover was bent and from the front one a grizzled old man, face spotted with old age warts stared out at me. After a one-page apologia we are plunged into the world of 1919 Geelong, an Australian resort on its beam ends, where we meet Annette Davidson, a disgruntled teacher and Phoebe, one of her pupils, a sulky girl, who gets excited only when, seeing an aeroplane gliding towards her - ‘my aeroplane,’ according to the narrator - and her parents Jack and Molly McGrath. From then on Herbert becomes our guide, though often disappearing into the sidelines. We soon forget that he is an old man, his time in gaol is skimped and his son Charles becomes the main focus. It’s not ‘his story’ after all but a potted history of Australia, told by an aggrieved survivor.
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Format: Paperback
You cannot help falling in love with the Illywhacher, a tale that takes shape in the mind.. vividly coloured with classic tales that take the reader into the magical and enchanting world of Herbert Bagery. Herbert Bagery's story is entertaining, funny and exciting, Carey's simply a comic genius! If he were living next door, I'd fall in love with him, too. This book manages to give you a sense of the real battler inside of everyone. It's a monster journey, the epic tale of an life of 139 years of trickery, fraud and deception. Beg, steal or borrow, you MUST read it!
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I loved Oscar and Lucinda and immediately bought all his other novels. This was the second I read after O&L, although it's an earlier novel. His first, I beleive. I started by loving this one, However, I doubt I would have read any more Pater Carey, had I read this novel first. There were really three books within the book and I got a little disheartened after the first one with the plane, which was promising. By the time it got to the mad daughter-in-law and people living in cages, I was looking forward to the end. (Make it stop!!!!). I now have several more more Peter Careys on my Kindle that I have to read. I'm not looking forward to it and really hope that the others come up to my earlier expectations.. I'll give them a try.
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