#AusReadingMonth2020 Thea Astley
- Author: Thea Astley (1925-2004)
- Title: An Item from the Late News
- Published: 1982
- Genre: novel
- Setting: Allbut (fictional town the resembles Carins Tablelands)
- Bingo card: QLD
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- Wafer saw his father blown apart by a bomb in the second world war.
- He seeks to spend his middle years in a place of solitude.
- Wafer arrives in the town of Allbut.
- It is scarcely a dot on the map in the vast Queensland outback.
- But Wafer’s peace-loving ways are not understood by the locals.
- When the final blast comes (Wafer’s fear of a nuclear bomb)
- …it is not the one he expected.
- The locals suspect Wafer is depriving them of a fortune in sapphires
- by hiding the source of his ‘find’.
- This lump of mineral that he keeps hidden may not even
- …be precious!
- .…Wafer may not walk away from this town
- …”a speck on the world’s glassy eye” (pg 1)…alive!
- Ms Astley fills the book with metaphysical ideas
- …and I thought, oke…this could be something:
- ….we are the second hands. we are the movers.
- …60 seconds to the minute means nothing. (pg 2)
- …perhaps I’m not the only one fighting clocks. (pg 11)
- …we don’t reach forward when we’re down. We reach further down,
- …trying to beat the swing of the wheel
- …here Astley means the balance wheel in a clock
- …that creates the ‘tick’ sound.
- These ideas never were developed.
- I still don’t know why the narrartor
- Gabby was fighting clocks!
Nihilism: Wafer’s unfortunate fate….
- Moral nihilism is view that there is no morality whatsoever.
- For example, the ‘locals’ would say that killing someone,
- for whatever reason, is neither right nor wrong.
- The word ‘NOTHING’ was mentioned 42 times.
- Wafer: “Oh, the pointlessness of the struggle to be…” (pg 144)
- Narrator: ” There is nothing outside that town. Is nothing.
- Can nothing be walled by nothing?”
- This entire theme was depressing….and I just lost interest.
- There was not s smidgen of joy in the book.
Characters: bland, uninteresting, and unsympathetic.
Title: An Item from the Late News
- This is a reference to a hostage situation in a foreign country
- that was heard on the ‘late news’.
- Wafer feels he is ‘held hostage’ in Allbut.
- “Oh, truly here in Allbut we are hostages as much as those 50 Yanks…” (pg 139)
- At the start I thought, even though the book was
- moving at a snails pace, I would give Thea Astley the
- benefit of the doubt.
- I let the plot develop and hoped it would make a good story.
- That was the high water mark for my experience with this book.
- Ms Astley has never disappointed me
- …but there is always a first time.
Feedback to @WhisperingGums (Sue)
Sue, you know if i can find anything good to say about Thea Astley I will.
I just missed her classic ‘catholic church bashing, snarky descriptions of women in her social circle, lyrical metaphors about music and her constant main character the weather…. it just wasn’t in this book. Ms. Astley left me a cryptic sentences that I thought would go somewhere: “Move forward, return to go. Move backward, to go. Move forward, to go. Return to one.” Oke, I imagined a chess game of life…but she didn’t dive into that thought of mine! I still have a few of Astley’s books to read…so I just consider this a speed bump in the road of her literary work!
Thanks so much for commenting!
Feedback to @ANZ Litlovers LitBlog (Lisa)
LOL we’ll have to agreee to disagree on this one!
as we did on blogpost 24 April 2019
#Ockham NZ Awards Shortlist Lloyd Jones!