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The Vintage and the Gleaning Paperback – 7 Jul 2011

3.7 out of 5 stars 6 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: MacLehose Press (7 July 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0857051385
  • ISBN-13: 978-0857051387
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,805,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product description

Review

'A small gem of a book... Tiptoe though pages of beautiful prose, nodding in admiration at lovingly rendered descriptions' Time Out.

'The rhythms of this life, the work, the terse banter among the men, and the relentless desperation are economically conveyed ... and the descriptions of ghost gums, the malignancy of circling crows and the omnipresent bleached, exhausted landscape are superb' Catherine Taylor, Guardian.

'Terrific Australian first novel ... Chambers writes very powerfully about the sadness of memory' Kate Saunders, The Times.

'This is without doubt the most distinguished first novel by an Australian writer I have read for long time' Andrew Riemer, Sydney Morning Herald.

'What a stupendous book. A wonderful, gripping story, beautifully told. He's the real thing' M.J. Hyland.

'The writing is powerful, challenging and authentic. I feel as if I've been waiting for years to read this strangely beguiling book' Alex Miller.

'Written with an authentic voice and infused with beauty, brutality and sadness, this is a compelling observation of men, women and country. A remarkably accomplished debut novel that is unputdownable' Irish Tatler.

'As a portrait of a man who goes painfully unrewarded for mending his ways, the novel is undeniably emotive' Sunday Times.

From the Inside Flap

'Nowadays, I'm doing all the thinking I should have done when I was young, when I could have done things right. But all I got now is memories and regrets...' Smithy is a retired sheep shearer turned vineyard worker in his autumn years. It is hard graft, but Smithy has always worked with his hands. Physically all but destroyed after a lifetime of hard liquor, though sober now, he begins to see the world with new eyes, a meditative, singular figure in the town's bar on rowdy Friday nights. But clarity can be a curse. Finally confronting his past, overwhelmed by long-buried feelings of regret, nostalgia and loss, Smithy steps in to help a young woman in a desperate situation. A cautious friendship develops, but Charlotte's husband is by many suspected of murder, and Smithy begins to be afraid that he will pay a high price for his gallantry. Pierced with beauty, brutality and sadness, The Vintage and the Gleaning has its own authentic music. It is a remarkably accomplished novel, a memorable record of men, women and country.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a debut novel by Jeremy Chambers and is set in a wine growing region of Australia. If you think Steinbeck, Beckett's language and even abit of 'The Road' in the hands of a talented new writer, you get a good idea of what the book is like. The central character, Smithy, was a shearer but now works on the vineyard. This is still tough physical work but more importantly he is now sober. He has had to give up the booze as he has wrecked his liver and stomach. "I can't even look at the stuff without feeling sick..." This gives him the chance to look back on his life and observe the people in this small town where people work hard and drink hard. Strength and physical prowess are valued above all. People have very little to say and the dialogue is circular and repetitive.

Smithy's reflections are further complicated by Charlotte, the wife of the local hell raiser. Smithy gallantly comes to her aid. The book is at its best with Smithy describing the remorseless terrain and his childhood; Charlotte's long monologue at the end of the book distracts from this and should have been shortened or done away with all together. Chambers powerfully evokes the fragility of human existence against a cruel and harsh world. People are adrift and without purpose which he suggests is due to the loss of tradition and links with history. There is much here to admire and moments of poignancy and tenderness are created although some of the book does feel imitative. I would definitely read another book by this writer though.
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Format: Paperback
What struck me from the beginning of the novel was the sheer 'American-ness' of
the novel- it could easily have been set in the wine producing area of
California as the atmosphere and more importantly the dialogue was highly
reminiscent of the pared down prose that is so prevalent in American fiction of
the moment- comparable with Willy Vlautin, Castle Freeman, Cormac McCarthy etc.
This was a definite bonus for me and I loved the obtuse and repititive nature of
the dialogue.
I thought Smithy was a totally believable and empathetic character and I loved
the passages in a stream of consciousness style as he mulls over the past and
the mistakes he made in his personal relationships and how his childhood
impacted so strongly on him. Likewise I thought the surrounding characters
well-fleshed out as typical Aussie labourers in a world where men are men and
the pub is the centre of their universe...
A wonderful debut.
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Format: Paperback
I enjoyed this book immensely. Having grown up in rural Australia I could almost smell the scenes as they were described. In observation I found the author to be piercing. His dialogue carried me back to my childhood, sections of it were faultless. The story rattles along and building tension almost like a thriller - it is very very good.

Then, all of sudden, the reader is confronted with a break in the narrative pattern and what amounts to a monologue by one of the characters that runs (from memory) to the best part of fifty pages. In my view it stops the novel dead in its tracks and whilst the author is sufficiently talented to restart it again one can only speculate as to why the editors didn't do something about it in first place.

Chambers is definitely one to watch - I look forward to his next novel with anticipation.
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