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November 28, 2020

17

#AusReadingMonth2020 Thea Astley

by N@ncy

 

Summary content:

  1. Wafer saw his father blown apart by a bomb in the second world war.
  2. He seeks to spend his middle years in a place of solitude.
  3. Wafer arrives  in the town of Allbut.
  4. It is scarcely a dot on the map in the vast Queensland outback.
  5. But Wafer’s peace-loving ways are not understood by the locals.
  6. When the final blast comes (Wafer’s fear of a nuclear bomb)
  7. …it is not the one he expected.
  8. The locals suspect Wafer is depriving them of a fortune in sapphires
  9. by hiding the source of his ‘find’.
  10. This lump of mineral that he keeps hidden may not even
  11. …be precious!

 

Plot: 

  1. Predictable
  2. .…Wafer may not walk away from this town
  3. …”a speck on the world’s glassy eye” (pg 1)…alive!
  4. Ms Astley fills the book with metaphysical ideas
  5. …and I thought, oke…this could be something:
  6. Time:
  7. ….we are the second hands. we are the movers.
  8. …60 seconds to the minute means nothing. (pg 2)
  9. …perhaps I’m not the only one fighting clocks. (pg 11)
  10. …we don’t reach forward when we’re down. We reach further down,
  11. trying to beat the swing of the wheel
  12. …here Astley means the balance wheel in a clock
  13. …that creates the ‘tick’ sound.
  14. These ideas never were developed.
  15. I still don’t know why the narrartor
  16. Gabby was fighting clocks!

 

Nihilism:  Wafer’s unfortunate fate….

  1. Moral nihilism is view that there is no morality whatsoever.
  2. For example, the ‘locals’  would say that killing someone,
  3. for whatever reason, is neither right nor wrong.
  4. The word ‘NOTHING’ was mentioned 42 times.
  5. Wafer: “Oh, the pointlessness of the struggle to be…” (pg 144)
  6. Narrator: ” There is nothing outside that town. Is nothing.
  7. Can nothing be walled by nothing?”
  8. This entire theme was depressing….and I just lost interest.
  9. There was not s smidgen of joy in the book.

 

Characters:  bland, uninteresting, and unsympathetic.

Title:   An Item from the Late News

  1. This is a reference  to a hostage situation in a foreign country
  2. that was heard on the ‘late news’.
  3. Wafer feels he is ‘held hostage’ in Allbut.
  4. “Oh, truly  here in Allbut we are hostages as much as those 50 Yanks…” (pg 139)

 

Conclusion:

  1. At the start I thought, even though the book was
  2. moving at a snails pace, I would give Thea Astley the
  3. benefit of the doubt.
  4. I let the plot develop and hoped it would make a good story.
  5. That was the high water mark for my experience with this book.
  6. Ms Astley has never disappointed me
  7. …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!

Read more from #AusReadingMonth
17 Comments Post a comment
  1. Nov 28 2020

    Oh well, we can’t agree all the time! I found this really powerful when I read it this year.

    Like

    Reply
    • Nov 28 2020

      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. 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 imaginged 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!

      Like

      Reply
      • Nov 28 2020

        Have most of the books of hers you’ve read been later than this one? I can’t recollect. I did find this lyrical.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nov 28 2020

        I’ve only read It’s Raining in Mango and Drylands (published after this one) b/c they were on Kindle and I needed an Astley book. Drylands was so good….using the weather an een opressive motif! All the books written BEFORE “Item” I’ve read. I am a true fan on Ms Astley! Now time to discover your favorite, Ms Jolley!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nov 28 2020

        I look forward to seeing what you think Nancy.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nov 28 2020

        I am looking at your blog now….which post should I use for my Jolley kickoff? Is het best to read her chronologically as I did with Thea
        Astley?

        Like

      • Nov 28 2020

        I think chronological wouldn’t hurt, but it wouldn’t have to be slavishly so! (I still have some gaps.)

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nov 28 2020

        Ok…looking at Jolley posts now on Whispering Gums…. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nov 28 2020

        PS Yes, I know you love her writing!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Nov 28 2020

        🙂

        Like

    • Nov 28 2020

      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!

      Like

      Reply
  2. Nov 29 2020

    My one and only Astley was read so long ago, I don’t feel I can contribute anything to this discussion. I read A Descant for Gossips because it was about a teacher in a small rural community (like I was at the time), but it was so full of the meanness of life, I found it quite a dispiriting read.

    Like

    Reply
    • Nov 29 2020

      Oh, there are so many books to read….where does one find the time?
      Loved your “myth’ book series review…which one is next? Before you know it the year-end wrap ups will be posted, new challenges started and off we go into 2021. Where has the year gone?
      Optima dies prima fugit (Virgil)
      “…the best days are the first to flee….”

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      • Nov 30 2020

        That’s funny! I was lying in bed last around 2pm, unable to go back to sleep. Started planning my Dec posts – yearly wrap ups, top 10’s etc and planning my 2021 reading schedule!!

        Like

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. #AusReadingMonth2020 Wrap-up | NancyElin
  2. Classics and Literary Round-up: November 2020 | Australian Women Writers Challenge Blog

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