Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
The Chemistry of Tears by Peter Carey: review
Peter Carey's 'The Chemistry of Tears' is a stylish and strange novel of invention and loss
The writer Peter Carey, whose latest novel is 'The Chemistry of Tears'
By Catherine Taylor - The Telegraph - 12 Apr 2012
A novel which links a 19th-century mechanical phenomenon and the catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil spill of 2010 is an ambitious undertaking. Fortunately its author is Peter Carey, a writer of such sustained flair that he has, only two years after his Man Booker-shortlisted Parrot and Olivier in America, delivered another stylish tour de force.
Carey enjoys strange pairings, from Oscar and Lucinda to the mismatched Bones brothers in Theft. Here, the symbiotic relationship occurs with a gap of 150 years. Catherine Gehrig, horology conservator at a minor London museum in the present day, grapples with grief when a senior colleague, her secret lover, dies suddenly. Germany, 1854, and Henry Brandling, an Englishman with a consumptive son, undertakes a desperate quest to commission a giant toy for the child, based on de Vaucanson’s famous digesting duck.
Catherine’s supervisor, with tactical kindness, gives her the rediscovered automaton as a restoration project; for her “the warm and weary air of this unexpected century” reflects an anguish that is elemental. Catherine herself is gloriously, subversively angry. Half-cut on vodka, she removes Henry’s notebooks from the museum and in piecing together his account of the evolution of the automaton’s assembling, begins to channel her sorrow. The “duck” is painstakingly revealed to be a swan, this most monogamous of beings a poignant reminder of Catherine’s loss. Read the full review at The Telegraph.