'Amnesia', by Peter Carey - Review

By Wheldon, Wynn | The Spectator, November 8, 2014 | Go to article overview

'Amnesia', by Peter Carey - Review


Wheldon, Wynn, The Spectator


Amnesia Peter Carey

Faber & Faber, pp.378, £18.99, ISBN: 9780571311187

Something odd happened between the advance publicity for this book and its printed appearance. Trailed as addressing the troubled history of Australia's relationship with the USA, it is actually about the troubled relationships between a cat's cradle of everyday radical folk and set almost entirely in the suburbs of Melbourne.

A washed-up old left-wing journalist, Felix Moore (keep an eye on the names), is employed to write an account of how and why Gabrielle Baillieux, a rebellious young computer hacker-cum-ecowarrior, devised and hatched a virus -- or 'worm' -- to open all the prison cells in the United States and Australia. She has been arrested and bailed and gone on the run.

Gaby is supposed to help Felix by making herself available. Instead, he is given boxes of tapes made by Gaby and her mother Celine (with whom Felix had been in love when they were students), describing the events of Gaby's childhood and adolescence during the 1980s. From these tapes the journalist fashions a story. A novel really, because he obviously makes the details up. Either that or both women have an astonishing memory for dialogue.

Peter Carey is a big literary beast, and observers have watched his clever eye turning towards the United States as the source for his stories. However, despite a scandalously misleading blurb that promises some kind of international techno-web-thriller, this is another novel which will best be enjoyed by an Australian readership. It is full of references to Australian history, but such is Carey's genius for invented worlds that one cannot be sure whether they are real or not. I did look up 'Jim Cairns', who really did exist, and is a Michael Foot-like hero for the Australian left.

While the first page of Amnesia is worthy of a Lee Child story, the thrills that follow have more to do with grubby lies and deceptions rendered with literary craft than with the knightly heroics of a Jack Reacher.

Most of the book, far from being about amnesia, consists of remembering. There is one chapter describing rather drily the details of what Felix, and apparently Carey too, reckons was a CIA-engineered coup to depose the late Gough Whitlam in 1975. Felix thinks Gaby's worm, released in 2010, was an act of vengeance (of which he approves). We never find out the true motive. But it doesn't matter, because this is background noise to the foreground dramas enacted between Gaby and her mother, her mother and her father, her mother and Felix, Felix and dodgy property tycoon Woody Townes, and, easily most interestingly, Gaby and her on/off boyfriend Frederic, genius geek. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

'Amnesia', by Peter Carey - Review
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.