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Karen Lamb

Sometimes the best place to get a true picture of what Peter Carey is really thinking about his writing is in the international press coverage, in the slipstream of a book’s reception, when he is at least partly preoccupied with the next writing challenge. At such times, Carey’s sensitivities are vulnerable to exposure, as they were in an interview with Robert Birnbaum in an American regional newspaper after he won his second Booker Prize, for True History of the Kelly Gang (2000). Carey is speaking about readers and reviewers (whom he reluctantly acknowledges are also readers). Australian reviewers, he explains to his interviewer, are usually just journalists and therefore subject to literalness and plot summary, an approach that doesn’t work with his fiction.

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Family is surely the house of all feeling. Yet when we are in our early twenties, if not before, part of our dream of being grown up is to imagine the day when we will leave this house. Years later, many of us realise that we never did, that the building may be prison or comfort, but it is also us. How one adapts to this sage correction by time and maturity largely determines the emo­tional comfort of middle life and beyond.

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