Saturday, January 8, 2011

Australian Fiction - Peter Temple

I've just finished my first book for 2011, and I really enjoyed this holiday read. My reading life really only commenced in the past 10 years, and I've not included alot of Australian fiction in my reading list. I remember getting very excited early in my reading life about Australian Authors Lilly Brett and Belinda Alexandra, and more recently Cate Kennedy and Monica McInerney. However Peter Temple has a been able to communicate some of the complexities of Australian life in the country.

Initially I found his writing style, a lot of short bursts of dialogue and quite changing scenes, and very blunt Australian slang, off putting. However, after about 100 pages I got into and couldn't wait to find out what more the story would uncover.

Peter Temple, has won four Ned Kelly awards for crime fiction. The eighth novel from this South African-born, Ballarat-based Australian writer is called The Broken Shore. Unlike his celebrated crime series, the Jack Irish novels; you might remember Bad Debts, Black Tide, Dead Point, and White Dog...those books are set in Melbourne and they feature his lawyer-gambler protagonist. The Broken Shore though is set in a small coastal community which in summer is a holiday village and in winter reverts to its bare bones. This spells development money, old rivalries, small town intrigues, and a turf war. The poor Aboriginal community in the vicinity provides a background setting for racism, blame and breakouts of violence. [quote from an interview with Peter Temple]

From another review I found on line which helps me describe what I found....

The main themes in this book are big issues such as police corruption, Aboriginal politics and the over-development of the coastal regions. There are others, but to name them would be to give away an important plot move. What brings Temple's world so vividly alive is the accumulation of detail in the evocation of the complex social networks through which the character of Cashin moves.

Take the itinerant swaggie, Rebb, one of the finest cameos in the book. Called upon to investigate a trespass, Cashin discovers Rebb sleeping in an outhouse, offering him first a lift out of town and then a job. Men of few words, Cashin and Rebb reveal themselves and their relationship through their actions, looking out for each other, taking care of the dogs, and rebuilding Cashin's ruined house blown up by his great-grandfather's brother in a fit of depression that Cashin fears is genetic. Temple sometimes makes me think I understand men.

In then end, it's all about family: the one you're born with and the one you make. But most of all it's about the writing, and in that regard The Broken Shore might just be a great Australian novel, irrespective of genre. Read it for what Temple does with words.

For me - it was a good book to pick up after some reading challenges - I know I do enjoy a little crime and forensics. I'm now returning to Madame Bovary with renewed vigour, and will keep my eyes open for the next Peter Temple.

1 comment:

Karen said...

Glad to hear that you continued to enjoy this one. I would have loved to have kept reading it but the writing style was just too short and sharp for me!