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Description - Amnesia by Peter Carey

Amnesia, Peter Carey's first Australian novel since True History of the Kelly Gang, moves between the critical dates of 2010, 1942 and 1975 to ask the most vital question of the past seventy years: Has America taken us over? How did a young woman from suburban Melbourne become America's Public Enemy number one? When Gaby Baillieux releases the Angel Worm into the computers of Australia's prison system, hundreds of asylum seekers walk free. Worse: an American corporation runs prison security, so the malware infects some 5000 American places of incarceration. Doors spring open. Both countries' secrets threaten to pour out. Was this American intrusion a mistake, or had Gaby declared cyberwar on the US? Felix Moore - known to himself as 'Australia's last serving left-wing journalist' - has no doubt. Her act was part of the covert conflict between Australia and America. That conflict dates back to the largely forgotten Battle of Brisbane in 1942, forwards to the secret CIA station near Alice Springs, and has as its most outrageous act the coup of 1975.
Funded by his property-developer mate Woody Townes, Felix is going to write Gaby's biography, to save her, and himself, and maybe his country. But how to get Gaby to co-operate? What role does her film-star mother have to play? And what, after all, does Woody really want? Amnesia is Carey at his best: dark, funny, exhilarating. It is a novel that speaks powerfully about our history but most urgently about our present. 'Amnesia is a raucous meditation on dissent ...An ambitious novel that possesses some of the energy and thrilling abandon of Carey's early works, including his short stories. It stands firm in ways reminiscent of Illywhacker ...Carey is a writer who seems to want to celebrate, as much as to castigate, human flaws. He is sardonic and withering, but somehow optimistic. In Amnesia, the world is insidious and magnificent ...Amnesia is both familiar and a distinctly new moment in his career.' Patrick Allington, Australian Book Review 'The story of WikiLeaks as if transmogrified by Dickens and turned into a thrilling fable for our post-Edward Snowden era.' Luke Harding, The Guardian 'The novel is a wild ride ...Carey is Australia's lyrebird master of dialogue, perfectly tuned to every nuance, or upward intonation, of successive generations of Australian speech .
..Effortlessly lyrical.' Morag Fraser, The Age

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Book Details

ISBN: 9781926428604
Format: Paperback / softback
(235mm x 157mm x 39mm)
Pages: 384
Imprint: Hamish Hamilton
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Publish Date: 14-Oct-2014
Country of Publication: Australia

Book Reviews - Amnesia by Peter Carey

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Book Review: Amnesia by Peter Carey - Reviewed by (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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