Saturday, July 03, 2010

Peter Temple's style suits his substance

Many fictional detectives lead chaotic lives, but their authors generally portray those messy lives in neat prose.

Peter Temple, on the other hand, gives his novel Truth a choppy, episodic cadence that quite nicely suits the choppy, episodic cadence of protagonist Stephen Villani's life.

Villani must solve two murder cases, one of which has grave political implications. He has a bad relationship with a daughter and a hellishly worse one with his wife. And he clashes with some of his supervisors.

One critic of the decision to award Truth Australia's Miles Franklin Award for best novel — not best crime novel, but best novel — invoked such features in a complaint that the book was nothing but a package of genre conventions.

Now, one would think a partisan of literary writing might have had more to say about Temple's prose style, the most noticeable feature of his work. But nothing, other than that Villani speaks in staccato rhythm. So the question becomes was the complainer paying attention?

A commenter who agreed with the complaint wrote that:
"The only thing that mitigates against talking about it, is that making a talking point of it feeds them the publicity they wanted…"

Mitigate for militate is a common error but surprising in an ardent defender of the purity of the high against the pollution of the low.

© Peter Rozovsky 2010

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81 Comments:

Anonymous Adrian McKinty said...

Yeah yeah Temple's brilliant, but onto more important stuff: a few weeks ago when I was telling you that Truth was a fantastic novel - if you recall - I also told you to put a bet on the Dutch for the World Cup. They have gone from being 120:1 to 3:1 FTW. The odds of them reaching the final have slipped from 40:1 to 1.5:1. I was a voice crying in the wilderness and nothing is going to militate against that. Or is it mitigate?

July 03, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

You did say you had money riding on the Netherlands. Furthermore, you wrote after Germany smacked England that if you were Diego Maradona, you "would be very afraid."

I shall consider having you handle any future sporting investments I should decide to make.

July 03, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Adrian, Voice Who Cries in the Wilderness might as well be your middle name. Still, I hope you cash in.

I've put a sign up about the Miles Franklin prize. Still, I'm pretty much ignoring Truth until I can get around to reading The Broken Shore.

July 03, 2010  
Blogger Snail said...

Soccer? Noooooooo

the book was nothing but a package of genre conventions

Yes, well, that could also describe the bulk of Australian literary fiction. Cliches sewn together with threads of pretension. (See, it's easy!)

July 03, 2010  
Anonymous Adrian said...

Oh it's still Germany's to lose without question. It's an interesting reversal from say 1974 or 1990. Germany are now the team that plays with fluidity and flair and the Dutch are solid, physical and, so far, lucky.

July 04, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, Voice Who Cries in the Wilderness may be close enough to Dances With Wolves to make Adrian grind his molars, so well done.

I can well understand not wanting to face Truth until you've read The Broken Shore, but the second book is no sequel to the first. The Broken Shore's protagonist gets just a few passing mentions in the newer book, for example. I have seen references to Truth as part of the Broken Shore series. This is misleading.

July 04, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Snail, Peter Temple occasionally injects a bit of humor into his books. Perhaps some also think this ill-suited to literature.

Yes, "Truth" uses crime fiction conventions. Yes, a reader allergic to crime fiction may blanch at these, and fair play to that reader. But if that reader is going to turn critic and lay out his opinions before the world, it behooves him either to acknowledge that he hates the conventions of crime fiction, or else to show that Temple makes no more than routine use of those conventions.

July 04, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, at least one commentator has noted that reversal of traditional roles. The Dutch coach, Van Marwijk, seems like such a level-headed guy, maintaining a consistent line-up, speaking against the idea of making changes for the sake of making changes. The Dutch camp has been eminently calm except for the Sneijder-Van Persie feud.

I wore an orange shirt to work on Friday in honor of the Dutch victory, by the way.

July 04, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Peter, thanks, that's good to know about Truth because you're right, I had been under the impression it was a sequel. So I'll just read them as the spirit moves me.

July 04, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Here's a bit from the Age that may clear things up:

"Truth is not a sequel to The Broken Shore, more a companion piece. Temple was worried that readers might get the impression that it heralded another series. (Not that he's done with either Cashin or Irish. Both pop up in Truth; walk-on roles that show his affection for them. And there will be more Irish down the track.)"

July 04, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

The minor uproar over awarding a “crime” writer a prestigious literary award means we’re not much closer to allotting critical acceptance to crime fiction than we were in 1928 when Dashiell Hammett wrote to his editor, Blanche Knopf:

“I'm one of the few—if there are any more—people moderately literate who take the detective story seriously. I don't mean that I necessarily take my own or anybody else's seriously—but the detective story as a form. Some day somebody's going to make 'literature' of it ... and I'm selfish enough to have my hopes.”

or than we were in 1949 when Raymond Chandler wrote to _his_ editor, Bernice Baumgarten:

“I am not satisfied that the thing can’t be done nor that sometime, somewhere, perhaps not now nor by me, a novel cannot be written which, ostensibly a mystery and keeping the spice of mystery, will actually be a novel of character and atmosphere with an overtone of violence and fear. If people call my book just another mystery I can’t help it, but by God I’m not going to do the calling myself.”

or than we were in 2003 when James Crumley (himself a crime fiction writer!) wrote of Ken Bruen’s “The Guards”:

“It's so good I can't think of it as a crime novel. It's a fine book with some crimes."

I really don’t know what great [crime] fiction has to do to throw off the shackles of disrespectability. And if it weren't for some fine writers not getting the recognition they are due I wouldn't give a hoot.

July 06, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Well, it's interesting. Prestige aside, I don't know if it really benefits crime writers to be hailed as literary. Part of what crime fiction has always had going for it is that readers aren't intimidated by it. At least here in the U.S. I think people categorize themselves, much more than they are categorized by others,as not up to certain intellectual challenges. Smart crime writers are actually a great intermediary zone for many readers. They read it thinking it's simple and then find that they are capable of more complex reading than they first thought.

July 06, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Someone from the judging panel said somethling like she enjoys crime novels, but most would never be considered for an award like the Miles Franklin because they don't test the boundaries of their conventions. And that makes sense, really.

Think of your favorite novel from Hard Case Crime or Agatha Christie or Mickey Spillane. As enjoyable as it may be, as artfully put together, I'm not sure anyone would suggest it ought to win the Booker Prize or the National Book Awards. She spoke with good sense, and I like to think she did so not just because she was on the awards committee.

But some of online criticism of the award to Truth was shrill, idiotic and best ignored.

That passage from Chandler must be one of the most brilliantly prophetic ever uttered or committed to print about crime fiction:

“I am not satisfied that ... a novel cannot be written which, ostensibly a mystery and keeping the spice of mystery, will actually be a novel of character and atmosphere with an overtone of violence and fear."

Has anyone ever anticipated a trend in any field more accurately?

July 06, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, that was one of the more heartening and optimistic comments this blog has received. I like very much the suggestion that crime writers can help readers recognize their own capabilities.

I also am wary when the word literary is invoked in discussions of crime fiction. I don't know what it means, for one thing. For another, who needs it? Good, dirty crime fiction fun doesn't need a snooty seal of approval.

July 06, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Exactly. And, though I'm currently reading the literary novel par excellence, and will be for some time to come, I really take offense at any slur against genre novels. Some of the greatest characters and plots of the world have come from mysteries and other genre fiction. Some of the greatest "literary" novels have imbibed their sustenance from those genre novels. It might be more illuminating to think of literature as a vast communal project, except for the fact that individual fame is a great incentive to do the work.

July 07, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

A vast communal project in an advanced consumer economy in an industry driven largely by celebrity? That's a project large enough to deserve a post of its own, I'd say.

July 07, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I wonder when the term "literary fiction" was first used -- when and why.

July 07, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

It is a very irksome term. The more you focus on it, the worse it gets.

July 07, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Does anyone use the term outside discussions like these?

July 07, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Yes. In the book biz, all the time. It's also big in MFA programs, and literary magazines.

July 07, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

What do people mean by it?

July 07, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

I think that to put it most simply that they mean language based rather than story based. But I also think there's a sense that the fiction comes from studying literature rather than just sitting down and hacking out a story. It's really kind of an outdated idea, I think, as both crime writers and scifi and fantasy writers these days are very often as conscious of any of this as anyone who is more consciously "literary". I also think that the themes of literary fiction tend to be more based around our "real life", which usually doesn't include murders, voyages to outer space or entrance into fantasy realms. I think the taint of "commercial fiction" always raises its odious head in genre stuff, although it's largely spurious, as most authors do hope their work will also sell. I'm sure someone who's thought about this more could define it better than I could, though.

July 07, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

According to the Wikipedia entry: Literary fiction is a term that has come into common usage since around 1960, principally to distinguish serious fiction (that is, work with claims to literary merit) from the many types of genre fiction and popular fiction (i.e., paraliterature). In broad terms, literary fiction focuses more on style, psychological depth, and character, the plot may or may not be important. Mainstream commercial fiction focuses more on narrative and plot.

"The plot may or may not be important"?? Raymond Chandler didn't think plot was all that important, so he was damned if he did and damned if he didn't.

A link at that entry says:
Literary Fiction can be very hard to define. According to Judi Clark at mostlyfiction.com, "it can be the broadest category and in a sense is a catch all, but the intention is to list books that really draw you in with language, imagery, character insight and sense of place".

According to Joyce Saricks, Literary Fiction is "critically acclaimed, often award-winning, fiction. These books are more often character centered rather than plot oriented. They are provocative and often address more serious issues...these are complex, literate, multilayered novels that wrestle with universal dilemmas".

In an article in the Guardian Unlimited, Robert McCrum wrote, "What is 'literary fiction'? To many, it's the titles on the short list for the Booker Prize. To some, it's those serious-minded novels of high artistic intent by writers with a passionate commitment to the moral purpose of fiction. To others, it's a slippery piece of book jargon. It's certainly a label that's attracted its share of critical opprobrium. 'Literary' can be synonymous with 'highbrow', but I've heard 'pretentious' and even 'unreadable'. Literary fiction is what many writers aspire to, though quite a few will also run a mile at the first hint of it, too. Every reader will have his or her idea of what constitutes such a category."

Because much of the crime fiction discussed on this blog neatly dovetails into these definitions I remain stumped as to why "crime fiction" is not "real literature."

Personally, I'd rather eat ground glass than read a Booker Prize winner...

July 07, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yep, my man Bill James is pretty language-based, all right.

I'm not sure anyone could define it better than you could. And, good lord, why would anyone without an ax to grind want to try?

July 07, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

According to Joyce Saricks, Literary Fiction is "critically acclaimed, often award-winning, fiction. These books are more often character centered rather than plot oriented. They are provocative and often address more serious issues...these are complex, literate, multilayered novels that wrestle with universal dilemmas".

The first part of that is pretty good, that awards and acclaim define litary fiction. As to McCrum's definition, there is obviously more to the Guardian than just good soccer coverage.

Because much of the crime fiction discussed on this blog neatly dovetails into these definitions I remain stumped as to why "crime fiction" is not "real literature."

Why, it's nice of you to say so. My only rule on this blog is "no shite."

July 07, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

"My only rule on this blog is 'no shite.'"

Hmm, a "shite list" might be useful, though; suggestions on what to avoid as well as what to try. What with there being "so many books, so little time" and all.

July 07, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Nah, I can't say a book is shite if I haven't read it, and I won't read it if it's shite -- a virtuous circle.

July 07, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Although after a panel that included discussion on forgotten books, I got laughs with a suggestion for a future panel on books that deservet to be forgotten.

July 07, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Agree with Hammett and Chandler on many points here.

There are so many fine mysteries out there, past and present, U.S. and international. There are so many genres within this category.

And many are well-written, many authors actually write about people's thoughts and emotions, observations about life, politics, etc., in interesting and creative ways.

We may disagree or agree which books we'd characterize as very well-written or literary, but even given that, we could all come up with lists of these books.

Many mysteries have stood the test of time so that says something.

And it's many a time I turn the last page of a mystery and say, "now, that was a good book!"

And now having finished the good, but very sad, "Hypothermia," by Arnaldur Indridason, I must find humor.

If I hadn't read all of the Bernie Rhodenbarr series, I'd pick one up.

Any ideas on good, but witty?

July 08, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Not to disagree with the general trend of the comments here, especially sincd some of them are mine, but I thought I'd throw in this blog post as kind of counterpoint.

July 08, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

For wit in crime fiction, you could try Colin Watson's Flaxborough Chronicles series. If you like comic crime fiction, you might try Donald Westlake's Dortmunder novels.

Depending on where you think wit meets humor, you might like Colin Cotterill, Donna Moore, Declan Burke, Garbhan Downey, Christopher Brookmyre, Malcolm Pryce, Shane Maloney, Adrian Hyland... There's lots of good stuff out there.

July 08, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Seana, I have no quibble with Declan Burke's post. He quotes with approval the Miles Franklin judge to whom I alluded with approval a few comments up.

Peter Temple's award is no recognition that crime fiction has broken barriers, but rather that it can break barriers.

July 08, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

I actually have "Truth" and "Gunshot Road" on library reserve, so am waiting for them.

And I'll note the names above.

Don't know if you've all seen this, but Nora Ephron has a hilarious satire of the Stieg Larsson books at The New Yorker website, "The Girl Who Fixed the Umlaut."

Having just read the Indridason book, I found that amidst the love and loss, that I was laughing at the place names, found 14 which I can't pronounce in one paragraph.

July 08, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'll wait for "The Girl Who Fixed the Misplaced Apostrophe."

Yes, Arnaldur's novels can be heartbreaking and occasionally funny.

On Icelandic names, I had to introduce Yrsa Sigurðardóttir on a panel at last year's Bouchercon crime fiction convention. Once I managed a reasonable approximation of the correct pronuncation, the rest was a piece of cake.

July 08, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

Bought a 1944 Dell mapback of crime fiction writer Bruno Fischer's "The Hornets' Nest" last weekend. Somebody knew how to get it right. And a wonderful 1940s color cover, too.

July 08, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Many thanks. I think I'll make a post out of this one.

July 08, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

How did this go wrong? I'd assume lots of editors, copyeditors and proofreaders went over the Larsson U.S.-cover.

Someone made a decision to do this.

If it was accidental--which I doubt--than this educational system has failed, college English has failed.

July 08, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, don't underestimate the extent to which copy editing and proofreading are shown the door when cost-cutting time comes.

Or the publisher may simply have decided that design was more important than what once would have been considered correct, literate English, that 's looked better than s'.

July 08, 2010  
Anonymous Elisabeth said...

"Or the publisher may simply have decided that design was more important than what once would have been considered correct, literate English, that 's looked better than s'."

Or, as an undergrad once said to me in the class I was TA'ing: "What difference does it make? You know what I meant."

July 08, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

A student like that obviously deserves a failing grade, a slap in the head, and vocational counselling. But I wonder what I would say if I decided to try to explain to such a student why he or she was wrong.

July 09, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

This is what I want to know. Does the U.S. publisher not care that a cover title is not punctuated correctly? Does he/she think that it doesn't matter to the U.S. readership? That they won't notice? Or that it won't affect sales?

I can't believe that myriads of editors, copyeditors and proofreaders didn't notice a faux pas like that. My friends who are copyeditors and proofreaders have discussions about punctuation that can practically turn into polemics. They are serious about this. One 40-year veteran of copyediting thinks there is a serious mistake if a comma is left out or mistakenly put into a text.

So I'm sure Larsson's publisher here has a lot of staff to deal with apostrophes, especially on a book cover of a popular book.

Maybe it's true that it looked better on the design as "Hornet's Nest." Maybe they knew it would rile people so they took the plunge.

July 09, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, perhaps jacket copy does not get the scrutiny that the book's text does. More likely, budget cuts have reduced the scrutiny that all copy gets -- and believe me: Copy editing is the least valued part of any newsroom.

What the situation is in publishing, I don't know, although I have heard authors complain that they are expected to take responsibility for (which means pay for) editing that publishers would have handled twenty years ago. It does not take great ingenuity to figure out that this will mean more errors make it into print.

July 09, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Anyway, back to what's important: Am in the midst of reading "Truth" (a very good read), when I got sidetracked by the rave review by Bernadette at Reactions to Reading, of "Gunshot Road."

She gave it five stars and explains why it's a superb book from all perspectives.

Now the dilemma: whether to give in and read "Gunshot Road," or to persevere with self-discipline and finish "Truth" first. That is the dilemma with such good books close at hand.

July 16, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

A pleasant dilemma, is it not, and one that speaks well for the caliber of Australian crime writers.

July 16, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

"Truth" is a very good book, as is known. It very much discusses one more experience and viewpoint about the human condition, gloomy as it may be from Villani's vantage point.

Villani is a great character, although very flawed, like most people. He is principled, however.

One thing I found is that there is much humor in this book, especially in dialogues. There were times I laughed aloud while reading it. The wit is very sharp-edged.

Now on to "Gunshot Road."

July 18, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

A streak of deadpan humor always runs though Peter Temple's books.

July 18, 2010  
Blogger seana said...

Kathy, Adrian just did a review on Gunshot Road as well, which you can find here. You could read it after as easily as before, which is generally the way I like to read reviews if I have the choice, though in this case there aren't any spoilers, at least that I could see.

July 18, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yep, the review contains no spoilers, just an intelligent discussion of the book, which is all any review ought to be, really.

A review ought to be more than a thumbs-up/thumbs down, or a listing of themes like the ingredients on a box of cereal.

July 18, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Bernadette wrote a five-star (her top rating) review of "Gunshot Road," at her blog, "Reactions to Reading," a few days ago. There is not an aspect of the book she doesn't rave about.

It took all of my self-discipline to finish "Truth," before I went on to Hyland's book.

July 18, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

That sort of self-descipline in reading is a rare quality. I lack it.

One book can easily distract me from another.

July 18, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

I work at it, not jumping from one book to another until I'm finished. It's like resisting the chocolate cake in the refrigerator.

Sometimes it does happen. I still am in the middle of two other books which I carry with me.

As long as a review doesn't have spoilers, I can read them before or during a read, but I also read them after I'm finished. That actually can add to the enjoyment of a good book.

July 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I generally refrain from reading review until after I've read a book. On the other hand, I'll gladly read an intelligent essay about a book, a movie or a play before reading or seeing it.

July 19, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Adrian McKinty and Bernadette at Reactions to Reading, which I mentioned earlier, both wrote excellent reviews of "Gunshot Road," which weren't spoilers for me. They enhanced my reading of it, which is enjoyable anyway. I find myself smiling at many parts and laughing sometimes. (Christopher Hitchens, Doc, Darwin & evolution, for instance)

What a great sense of humor Hyland has!

July 19, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I'm no fan of the word "review." You wouldn't not read an essay about India or particle physics or Renaissance art because you had not visited India, see the Sistine Chapel, or played with quarks; why should one not read an essay about a book because one has not previously read the book?

July 19, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

How about "Assessment" or "Critique" of "Analysis"? Any other words?

Maybe different topics need different headings.

July 20, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Am in the process of reading "Gunshot Road." I wish all writers took the care which Adrian Hyland obviously took to write this book.

A reader can tell that he thought about every paragraph, about every sentence, each word. Each paragraph feels like it was crafted.

I can't skip through it quickly. I have to savor it.

That does not happen often.

July 20, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

How about "Assessment" or "Critique" of "Analysis"? Any other words?

How about "discussion"?

July 20, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, I'd bet Mr. Hyland would be pleased to read your comment. He spent years living and working among Aboriginal peoples, and he cares about them very much. That care is what i think you see reflected in his writing.

July 20, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Yes, "Discussion" is good.

I'd be glad to email Adrian Hyland and tell him but didn't see an email. Maybe he'll see it here.

Yes, his care about Indigenous people is very clear but his writing is to be savored.

This said from someone who can rip through a page-turning thriller, but not this book.

It's the writing that needs appreciation, thought and savoring.

July 20, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Just a thought for the blog:

Talk about "literary fiction," or "crime fiction that transcends the genre": add "Gunshot Road" to this list.

July 21, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Or say that "Gunshot Road" has something serious to say about serious subjects even as it entertains readers.

July 21, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Sure, why not?

But whoever is writing lists of books that transcend the genre or are overall novels, "Gunshot Road" should be added and seen that way.

I forgot it was a mystery actually as I was reading a scene and interested in the dialogue.

July 21, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Yes, I think he could write good non-crime books set in those outlying areas where white folks and Aboriginal people meet and live. A mystery supplies a handy plot, though!

July 21, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

My only frustration with "Gunshot Road," aside from no glossary, although I'm figuring out the words, is no map.

I wish that I could follow Emily Tempest on her journey, see where she is on a map, what part of Australia she is traveling through, where the little settlements are.
Then I could look them up on a Web map and find photos, etc.

Imagination is fine; maps and photos would be better of the region.

July 22, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Glossaries are often an issue when Australian crime novels are published overseas. You'll probably have noticed the lengthy glossary that accompanies "Truth."

A map is an interesting suggestion. Emily's "mob" in both Adrian Hyland's novels is fictional, though based on Hyland's own experiences. I'm not sure how closely the towns and settlements are based on particular models, which means I'm not sure he had precise locations in mind for them. But that's another suggestion he could take up if he read it here.

July 22, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Yes, like exactly where is Emily Tempest traveling? Is there a region I could look up on a map and see photos of to get more of a visual sense of the terrain, etc.

July 22, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, I posted your comment on the Yahoo Oz Mystery Readers group, and I received this reply:

"when I read a US Young Adult novel called 'The absolutely true diary of a part
time indian' by Sherman Alexi and found myself interested in the geography and
distances from that book, (sorry, can't remember just that there were
'reservations' involved), I went to google maps and had a lovely play around in
there.

I guess though, very isolated parts of Australian may not be covered. But it's a
thought.

Trisha Buckley
TL Brisbane"

July 22, 2010  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Kathy (and Peter - mind if I drop in?)

So glad you're enjoying Gunshot. As you say somewhere, and you're correct, it is the writing itself that i care about most.

Re the glossary: sorry. I was happy to do one, but the publishers chose not to this time. 'Moonlight Downs' has got one, and I suspect most of the trickier examples of Aussie slang are in there.

A map would be lovely; I think I toyed with the idea of one once, if only to help the reader follow the plot. But it would have to be a fictional one. The book is based upon the Aboriginal comminities in which i worked, but i was loathe to be seen as treading upon anybody's sensibilities. I, of course, had a very clear idea of the region in my mind, and apologize if i didn't convey that to the reader. i suppose you just have to put the book down from time to time, close your eyes and go with the flow.

Googling a few images from the Tanami Desert would probably help.

Best wishes

Adrian

July 23, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Here is a terrific interview with Adrian Hyland where he explains background to "Gunshot Road," and talks about the Indigenous peoples he knows and refers to in his book.

http://jsydneyjones.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/mystery-down-under-adrian-hylands-outback/#comment-411

Bernadette of Reactions to Reading posted this at her blogspot and also put up some key words for Internet google searches to learn about the region Hyland is discussing.

July 23, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Adrian, distinguished visitors are always welcome. And thanks for the information.

Kathy, remember the scene in Annie Hall where the blowhard professor is pontificating about Marshall MacLuhan, and Woody Allen's character says, "Oh, yeah? Well I happen to have Mr. MacLuhan right here"? Well, take a look at the comment right above yours.

July 23, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Thank you. I did read that comment just now after I had googled "Alice Springs," "Tamani Desert," and "Northern Territory," and read the interview referred to in my post.

Am very glad the author dropped by. I hope he reads Bernadette's rave review at "Reactions to Reading."

I can't rip through this book. I have to read portions at a time so I can think about them and come back and enjoy some more pages and I don't want it to end.

A few readers who have blogs are experiencing post-good-book slump, trying to find another really good book to follow "Gunshot Road."

Anyway, I'll get lost in the geography and history of Indigenous peoples in Australia, a terrific use of the Web's assets--after I'm finished reading the book, although I have done a bit of researching, as said above.

July 23, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, Adrian Hyland is a member of the Yahoo Oz Mystery Readers group, which I mentioned above. It's free and easy to join, should you wish to drop in.

July 23, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Finally finished "Gunshot Road," and it did not disappoint. Emily Tempest is a great character and remained true to herself and her people. There were a few rough spots for her but she gathered her strength and moved on to do what she needed to do and showed her loyalties
and courage.
Book should be required reading and also seen as a work that transcends its genre.

July 24, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

Kathy, have you read Hyland's first novel, Diamond Dove (published as Moonlight Downs in the U.S.)?

July 25, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Yes, I did read Hyland's first book awhile ago. While I liked it, I didn't enthuse about it like "Gunshot Road," in which much of the writing is like "poetry," to quote Maxine Clarke at Petrona.

As I said here while I was reading it, each sentence had to be pondered and savored.

While I didn't feel that way with the first book, I was thrilled to enjoy the language of "Gunshot Road." Also, the ideas, the culture of the Indigenous peoples, their language, music, art, and spiritual interpretations of life around them, was great.

Then I was motivated to do google searches to learn more about the geography, terrain, climate about the region Hyland was discussing, although some of it belongs in the purview of the imagination.

I look forward to the next book about Emily Tempest if Hyland is writing one.

July 25, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Also, am in the "post-good-book slump" after finishing "Gunshot Shot," a phenomenon experienced by Bernadette at Reactions to Reading, after she finished it.

After pondering what to do, turned to a book by Michael Connelly, which seems to be fine, as he does write page-turners and has a great sense of humor.

However, the jump from Australia to Los Angeles is an enormous one. I feel like I'm going through the "bends," which is sometimes the case when quickly changing books.

July 25, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

If I finish an excellent book late at night, I may start another book, even if I just read a page or two, before going to bed. That's an effort to stave off the bends, I suppose.

July 25, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

I asked about Diamond Dove/Moonlight Downs because your comment that about Gunshot Road, that

"There were a few rough spots for her but she gathered her strength and moved on to do what she needed to do and showed her loyalties
and courage."

reminded me of observations I had made about the first book.

July 25, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Well, there were particularly bad events in "Gunshot Road" that happened to Emily Tempest, that don't usually happen to women protagonists.

This got her down for a few days but she, as I said, gathered her inner resources and got some support from other people and was able to move on.

Many characters and living people wouldn't have recovered so quickly.

July 25, 2010  
Blogger Peter Rozovsky said...

There's definitiely a touch of the amateur sleuth to Emily: she makes mistakes, overcomes obatacles, bounces back from them, even if the story generally has a harder edge than amateur-sleuth mysteries often do. Hyland's novels may bot quite be of the amateur-sleuth family, but they are distant relatives.

July 25, 2010  
Anonymous kathy d. said...

Yes, amateur-sleuth but at times, harder-edged.

Don't want to say more as it would be a spoiler to those who haven't yet read "Gunshot Road."

July 25, 2010  

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