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Book DetailsISBN: 9781926428604
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Book Review: Amnesia by Peter Carey - Reviewed by CloggieA (16 Apr 2016)
Amnesia is the fourteenth novel by award-winning Australian novelist, Peter Carey. The Angel Worm: a virus that proves to be a security nightmare when it opens prisons around Australia. And worse still, infects the big parent security firm in the United States, attracting the ire of the CIA and other security entities. When the hacker is discovered to be a young Melbourne woman, journalist Felix Moore is surprised to find himself involved.
Actress Celine Baillieux is desperate to prevent her daughter, Gaby’s extradition to the United States for unleashing said virus, and calls on her old Uni mate to write a biography that will exonerate this feisty young woman. Property developer, Woody Townes, the man who has extracted Felix from many a dire situation, is enlisted to facilitate matters.
But is Felix, “the most controversial journalist of his age”, known for ruining reputations and manufacturing quotes (“He freely admitted that he not only made up quotes but had also been accused of making up quotes, ‘but never the quotes I actually made up.’”) the right person for the job? It seems Felix has a fixation on the role of the United States in Australia’s politics: the “Battle of Brisbane” and the 1975 Dismissal feature prominently in the tale he constructs.
Carey gathers together a diverse cast of characters, people the reader will recognise from everyday life: the Local Member intent of preserving image; the ageing actress isolated from her theatre milieu in a working-class suburb; the highly intelligent students able to run rings around security to further their cause; the property developer with a finger in many pies; petty crooks trying to make it big; and greenies determined to expose corporate cover-ups.
Carey gives the reader plenty of humour, both in the dialogue between the characters and in the predicaments in which he places his protagonist. Felix is charmed, spoiled, kidnapped, isolated, forced to live rough and made to produce his manuscript with technology that is virtually obsolete (cassette tapes, paper and a typewriter, no less!). The back-cover blurb is quite misleading, as the story goes in a completely different direction. The pace could perhaps have been faster: occasionally, the story seemed to lose momentum. Nonetheless, an enjoyable read.
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