Friday, March 6, 2009

The Great Fire

Well Shirl, I've done it...I've finished your book!

With only 30 pages to go, I was barely hooked, but right at the end it clicked for me, and I saw clearly why most people love it. It's a powerfully romantic novel.

The sadness and melancholy are overwhelming. War and disease take the young, beautiful and good. Oafs and fools remain. Isolation and alienation eat away at the sensitive and intelligent.

However, Hazzard is a snooty Australian ex-pat and it shows. The cultural sneer is not far from the surface, mainly directed at vulgar Australians.

The language also remains bad all the way though! Here are some more jarring 'examples:

'..Leith was driving with Talbot into green hills: discarding the exploded dockland..' (she means 'deserting').

''There might be other incidents, recorded or obscured, beside which the present outbreak would not look well' (she means 'good').

'Impetus was irreducible' (She means 'momentum was unstoppable' - two clangers in the space of three words!)

'Looking across the straight, you now saw...the interior life of the mainland: grouped habitations, laborious paddies, serpentine paths...' ('laborious' is so wrong. We know what she means but in trying too hard to achieve some adjective/noun rhythm in the sentence she buggers it).

'He was fretted by his own assertion that he would soon be gone.' (She means he was made 'anxious').

'I say your name in this flimsy room so strangely become immemorial' (she means 'memorable').

I could go on and on with these examples but you get the point. To be fair however, there are some potent, quotable lines and passages. Take this: 'As Gardiner had said, the Driscolls were disquieting as a symptom of new power: that Melba and Barry should be in the ascendant was not what one had hoped from peace. It did not even seem a cessation of hostilities.' [Melba and Barry, you probably guessed, are ugly Australians!]

So in summary The Great Fire is both very good and very bad. It's like wading through a long stretch of mud to get a decent meal. Is it worth it? No. It's far too exhausting. Read something else.

1 comment:

tess said...

Does she credit Microsoft Word's thesaurus in the acknowlegements?