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Oscar and Lucinda

by Peter Carey

Choice There are two main strands in Carey's novel; the relationship between the two compulsive gamblers named in the title and the realization of Lucinda's fantasy in the construction of a glass church. But the strands are only loosely connected, and we have essentially two novels or two long short stories swollen to unnecessary length. Carey is of interest as an Australian disciple of Jorge Luis Borges and John Barth, but he lacks Barth's fertile inventiveness and stylistic wit. As in a number of Barth's books, the story line operates toward failure, but Carey, unlike Barth, heightens this effect by a tendency to produce less in narrative surprise than he leads us to expect. The book has been carelessly proofread: there are well in excess of 100 errors. Recommended for libraries with Commonwealth collections. J. B. Beston Nazareth College of Rochester

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly If Illywhacker astounded us with its imaginative richness, this latest Carey novel does so again, with a masterly sureness of touched added. It's a story, in a sense the story, of mid-19th century England and Australia, narrated by a man of our time and therefore permeated with modern consciousness. Oscar is a shy, gawky, Oxford-educated Church of England minister with a tortured conscience; Lucinda is a willful, eccentric Australian who sinks her family inheritance into a glass factory; and the basis for the star-crossed love that develops between them is a shared passion for gambling. They meet on the boat to Sydney, Oscar becomes Lucinda's lodger after being defrocked for his ``vice'' and, finally, leaving a trail of scandal behind them, they construct a glass church in the Outback, their wildest gamble yet. The narrative techniques though which Carey dramatizes the effects of English religious beliefs and social mores upon frontier Australia smack of both Dickens and of Fowles's The French Lieutenant's Woman; but he doesn't lean upon his sources, he uses them, for his own subtle and controlled purposes. His prose (full of such flashes as ``A cormorant broke from the surface, like an improbable idea tearing the membrane between dream and life'') is an almost constant source of surprise, and he is clearly in the forefront of that literary brilliance now flowing out of Australia. 30,000 first printing; $35,000 ad/promo. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Publishers Weekly ``If Illywhacker astounded us with its imaginative richness, this latest Carey novel does so again, with a masterly sureness of touch added. It's a story, in a sense the story, of mid-19th century England and Australia, narrated by a man of our time, and therefore permeated with modern consciousness,'' stated PW. The novel won the Booker Prize. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved