Illywhacker Paperback – 5 Jun 2014
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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)
Illywhacker, from twice winner of the Booker Prize Peter Carey, is a picaresque tale of one man's exploits across the Australian continent.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
Only Terry Gilliam could make a film of this. It's a mixture of Australian epic, comedy and heart rending tragedy.
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
After a strong start with a great deal of humour and a rogue of a main character this book slowly descends into banality. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Mr Gordon Davidson
I certainly can't express what, but I think Carey is some sort of genius and manages to point to profound truths while writing an amazingly fun book. Read morePublished on 19 Jan. 2014 by MRTPS DAVIES
I think that simply to dismiss Herbert as "dishonest" is to miss the central theme of this tale. The one thing which many a comedian, romancer or flim-flammer has in common is... Read morePublished on 2 May 2008 by Andrew Sheldon
An excellent book! Takes me back to my happy days wandering aroun areas such as "uluru", formerly known as ayers rock. Read morePublished on 29 May 2001
I loved "The amazing live of Tristan Smith". I can't say the same about this. It's slooooow and uneventful. Read morePublished on 10 May 2001