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30 DAYS IN SYDNEY:
A Wildly Distorted Account

Author: Peter Carey
One in Bloomsbury - The Writer and the City series

In the midst of the 2000 Olympic games, Australia native Carey returns to Sydney after a seventeen-year absence. Examining the urban landscape as both a tourist and a prodigal son, Carey structures his account around the four elements—Earth, Air, Fire, and Water—insisting on the primacy of nature to this unique Australian cityscape.

As his quixotic account unfolds, Carey looks both inward into his past (as well as Sydney's own violent history) and outward onto the city's familiar landmarks and surroundings—the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, the Blue Mountains—achieving just the right alchemy of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water to tell Sydney's extraordinary story.

From Publishers Weekly
In the second volume of Bloomsbury's The Writer and the City series, Carey (Oscar and Lucinda), an Australian native, returns to Sydney after 17 years. Armed with a battery-powered tape recorder, he badgers old friends including a Vietnam vet, a lawyer and an architect to contribute stories that might define Sydney. "A metropolis is, by definition, inexhaustible, and by the time I departed, thirty days later, Sydney was as unknowable to me as it had been on that clear April morning when I arrived," Carey concludes. He deftly intertwines dry facts about climate, geography and history with poetic stream of consciousness. The result is a desultory, impressionistic love letter to the city, structured loosely around earth, air, fire and water (one friend protected his home from bush fires; another barely survived the "murderous seas of the 1998 Sydney-Hobart race" which sank six yachts and killed five men). The acclaimed Booker Prize winner lets his characters direct the story, stepping in briefly to explain ("A rissole, in case you are from across the sea, is a kind of hamburger patty, but it is also an arsehole and also an RSL [Returned Services League]") and describe ("On Bondi I feel the space everywhere, not just in the luxury of beach and light but in that imagined house two streets back where I will not have to throw a book away to make room for each new one"). Carey touches lightly but firmly on Sydney's own brand of white guilt and patriotism, as well as its culture and landmarks. While other travelogues may provide more information, this effort will leave more lasting impressions.
© 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
$16.95 (hardcover)
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