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Description - Harland's Half-acre by David Malouf

Born on a poor dairy farm in Queensland, Frank Harland's life is centred on his great artistic gift, his passionate love for his father and four brothers and his need to repossess, through a patch of land, his family's past. The story spans Frank's life; from before the First World War, through years as a swaggie in the Great Depression and Brisbane in the forties, to his retirement to a patch of Australian scrub where he at last takes possession of his dream. Harland's Half Acre tells how a man sets out to recover the land his ancestors discovered and then lost and how, in fulfilment, this vision becomes a new reality.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780099273837
ISBN-10: 0099273837
Format: Paperback
(199mm x 129mm x 17mm)
Pages: 240
Imprint: Vintage
Publisher: Vintage Publishing
Publish Date: 20-May-1999
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Book Reviews - Harland's Half-acre by David Malouf

US Kirkus Review » To write fictionally about visual artists is one of the novelist's most tantalizing, challenging temptations - with difficulties in either an interior or a more surface-y approach. Here, talented Australian writer Malouf (An Imaginary Life, Johnno) mixes the two approaches. On the one hand, Malouf tells the story of Australian hermit/painter Frank Harland's life through Frank's own boyhood memories: of his colorful, irresponsible father Clem; of Frank's guardianship over four younger brothers; of the crumbly estate, Killarny, on which they all grew up. But Malouf also views Harland through the voice of Phil Vernon, a young lawyer who has childhood memories of a Frank Harland painting - and of going with his father to meet the painter in his studio (an old movie house on a pier). Eventually Phil comes to compare Frank's family life and personal disengagement with his own. (Phil's family is flightier in its diversity.) And this switching of narrative reins ultimately becomes a little jostling. Yet there's vigor and freshness in the very raucousness of elements here, the paragraph-sized stories which Malouf litters about. Impressive, too, are his excellent descriptions of the Frank Harland painting-process underway. ("The breath of cattle came to him, the sound of a windmill creaking, a magpie's wing black-on-white, and its cry the colour of morning, smoke after flame. And there was a quilt, mostly green, that when darkness covered it like a second quilt showed its true colors. Hands had chosen them from a drawer full of remnants. The pads of his fingers felt for ridges. They were stitches when a needle had gone through with the force of a hand behind it, and behind that a body. He mimicked, as he brought his own colours into being, the movement of that hand.") So, though there's little story or drama in this quirky mosaic, Malouf's prose provides enough richness and panache to turn an essentially murky book into an often-pleasurable one - for a sophisticated, art-oriented readership. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - David Malouf

David Malouf is internationally recognised as one of Australia's finest writers. His novels include Johnno, An Imaginary Life, Harland's Half Acre, The Great World, which won the Commonwealth Writers' Prize and the Prix Femina Etranger in 1991, and Remembering Babylon, which was shortlisted for the 1993 Booker Prize and won the inaugural IMPAC Dublin Literary Award in 1996. He has also written five collections of poetry and three opera libretti. He lives in Sydney.

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