IN BRINGING TOGETHER THESE ESSAYS AND WRITINGS on the work of Peter Carey, Andreas Gaile has performed a service for which we may be grateful. This service includes the practical one of making readily available an intellectual resource for the study of Carey's work, as well as the more general service of marking a moment in the reception of Peter Carey: a collection of critical essays is a tacit acknowledgment that the academy is in fact serious about a writer. (The public's reception, of course, is another dimension.) To say this collection is overdue is redundant, since the condition of possibility for such a book is the recognition that it should already exist. As Gaile himself points out, for all the widespread attention given to Carey, this present book of essays is the first of its kind. Again, for this service we ought to be thankful.
But linked to the notion of service is the concomitant one of 'performance'. Gaile performs a service in the sense of fulfilling or carrying out what is required and expected as an established procedure. He has acted in his role as editor and has seen to it that everyone else plays his or her part accordingly. Clearly, a collection of essays is a sub-genre and, while we may not yet know the particulars of the essays contained in one, we recognize the overall structure right away and treat it as we would any familiar type of literature. That, after all, is how literature works as a system. The rules of genre allow for comprehension. With the advent of Fabulating Beauty, Peter Carey's writings are now fully implicated in this literary system – and critics, as we can see, are well along in the process of establishing what the work means and how it functions within that system. Gaile and the many fine critics and writers