The play of mirror images in this new work of Thea Astley is quite dazzling. She goes from strength to strength in her command of the crafts of narrative. The book is an enquiry into escape, not just any escape, but escape in an almost metaphysical dimension, in which losing oneself is the only way to find oneself. The novel appears to divide into two novellas, linked by the appearance of the vill ... (read more)
Marie Maclean is a senior research fellow at Monash University.
September 1994, no. 164 • 01 September 1994
This is a dazzling book. A sprawling, sensual, rambunctious marvel of a novel, it drives its readers out of their everyday world and every comfortable preconception. It takes enormous risks, not least that of demanding our understanding for the monstrous. The first striking achievement of The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith is in creating two wholly imaginary countries on some alternative Earth, co ... (read more)