Peter Carey received the Booker Prize for Oscar and Lucinda, and again for True History of the Kelly Gang. His other honors include the Commonwealth Prize and the Miles Franklin Award. The author of seven previous novels and a collection of stories, he was born in Australia in 1943 and now lives in New York City.
Hoping to gain some insight into her parents' troubled marriage, London poetry editor Sarah Wode-Douglass accepts an invitation from novelist and family friend John Slater to accompany him to his Malaysian retreat. Her focus, however, quickly turns to another Malay resident, the enigmatic Christopher Chubb, who in the 1940s devised a literary hoax to embarrass a young poetry editor at a fashionable magazine. Using the pseudonym Bob McCorkle, Chubb submitted poems that were admittedly imitative and, for the era, racy; their subsequent publication led to an obscenity trial for the editor, who came to a bad end. Strangely, no one seemed interested in Chubb's confession, and things became more complicated when a seven-foot giant claiming to be Bob McCorkle appeared in the flesh. This strange golem cursed Chubb's life; born at 24 and determined to possess a childhood he never had, he absconded with Chubb's young daughter. When Sarah learns this story, she becomes obsessed with what McCorkle means to Chubb and Chubb's efforts to reclaim his daughter. Carey's fans won't find this novel as rich in background and characterization as earlier works like Oscar and Lucinda and True History of the Kelly Gang; the narrative is pared down, and there's a definite emphasis on action in the closing pages. But this is no flaw-the book reads like a shot, and as before, the author peoples his tales with charming and intelligent rogues, albeit 20th-century ones this time around. Highly recommended. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 7/03.]-Marc Kloszewski, Indiana Free Lib., PA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Carey, who won the Man Booker Prize for his True History of the Kelly Gang, takes another strange but much less well-known episode in Australian history as the basis for this hypnotic novel of personal and artistic obsession. He tells it through the eyes of Lady Sarah Wode-Douglass, editor of a struggling but prestigious London poetry journal, who one day in the early 1970s finds herself accompanying an old family friend, poet and novelist John Slater, out to Malaysia. There they encounter an eccentric Australian expatriate, Christopher Chubb, who concocted, Slater says, a huge literary hoax in Australia just after the war, creating an imaginary genius poet, Bob McCorkle, whose publication by a little magazine led to the suicide of the magazine's editor. Now Chubb offers Lady Sarah a page of poetry that shows undoubted genius and claims it is from a book in his possession. Lady Sarah's every acquisitive instinct is inflamed, but to get her hands on the book she has to listen, as Chubb inflicts on her, Ancient Mariner-like, the amazing story of his own epic struggle with McCorkle. In the end, the vaunted manuscript is revealed to be in the care of Chubb's fierce daughter (long ago kidnapped and raised by McCorkle) and a deranged Chinese woman. To what lengths will Lady Sarah go to get it, and how will the women keep it from her? The tale is a tour de force, with a positively Graham Greene-ish relish in the seamy side of the tropics, a mix of literary detective story and murderous nightmare that is piquantly hair-raising. And just when it seems that Carey's story is his greatest fantastic creation to date, he lets on that the hoax at the heart of it actually took place in Melbourne in 1946. As so often before, this extravagantly gifted writer has created something bewilderingly original and powerful. (Nov. 30) Forecast: There is no denying the fascination of Carey's tale, but his devoted readers may find it more difficult to succumb to the allure of a neglected poet than to the more obvious thrills of an outlaw life. 75,000 first printing. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
"My Life as a Fake is so confidently brilliant, so economical yet lively in its writing, so tightly fitted and continuously startling." --John Updike, The New Yorker
"Ingenious . . . Carey is as diabolical as the hoaxes that his
book includes." -- The New York Times "Brisk, relentlessly
prankish. . . . A virtuoso amalgam of styles, simultaneously a
literary conundrum of the Borges variety, an exotic adventure tale
evocative of both the settings and the narrative methods of Conrad,
and a horror story derived from Mary Shelley's
Frankenstein." --The New York Times Book Review "A wholly
absorbing, bizarrely madcap comedy and a telling commentary on the
sometimes baffling sources of art. . . . Though fiction, the book
is anything but fake. It's truth, beauty and comedy wrapped in one
sprightly package." --Chicago Tribune
"We have a great novelist living on the planet with us, and his name is Peter Carey."
--Los Angeles Times Book Review "Circling from the real to the imaginary and back is as happily perplexing as a drawing by M.C. Escher. . . . Carey can bring a character to life, give him a voice and a history and a psychological topography, in a single paragraph." --The New York Review of Books "No other Australian writer in our time has succeeded as well as Peter Carey in writing novels that compel the attention of a world-wide audience. His work . . . occupies a high plane of literary brilliance." --The Boston Globe "Peter Carey's new novel comes like a monsoon after drought. It is a magnificent, poetic contemplation of the lying, fakery and insincerity inherent in the act of artistic creation. . . . It's a charismatically furious piece of work, brilliantly meshing its ethical and artistic debate with a rich human drama." --The Times (UK)
"Reads like the impossible offspring of a fictional menage-a-trois involving Pale Fire, Lord Jim, and Our Man in Havana. . . . A fabulous book in the original sense of the term--and in the other one, too." --The Atlantic Monthly
"In book after book, Peter Carey has proven that he's incapable of writing a dull page. . . . He's one of the greatest storytellers alive. . . . A dazzling narrative." --The Christian Science Monitor "Fast, furious and fantastical. . . . Carey is Australia's finest living novelist." --The Guardian "Carey is that rare artist brave enough to flee success, a tactic that underlies his dazzling track record. Each of his novels sets him a different challenge; in each, he excels. A triumph in its own right, My Life as a Fake leaves us wondering how he's going to delight and disconcert us in his next book." --St. Louis Post-Dispatch "My Life as a Fake is the real thing." --Time "Complex and masterful. . . . A haunting story whose surreal events are as captivating and memorable as the misguided aspirations of its characters." --Minneapolis Star-Tribune
"In My Life as a Fake, Peter Carey has created a novel that is captivating and haunting, and, in the end, sinfully delightful. For both longtime readers and those coming to his work for the first time, it's a book not to miss." --Richmond Times-Dispatch "Great rollicking fun. . . . A dazzling, beautifully detailed, intellectually energetic book." --The News & Observer (Raleigh)
"My Life as a Fake dazzles the reader with heady ideas and literary reference points (a la Frankenstein and Pale Fire), then catapults us into madcap action. . . . [Carey] exudes a hallucinatory realism that makes imaginary universes feel concrete and believable." --The Village Voice
"A devilishly engrossing meditation on illusion. . . . My Life as a Fake [is] an ingenious homage to the power of the imagination and to Carey's ability to create--and connect--worlds within worlds." --The Atlanta Journal-Constitution