The Trout Opera
Vintage, $32.95 pb, 592 pp
Ten years in the making, Matthew Condon’s vibrant modern epic, The Trout Opera, has been worth the wait. It has an expansiveness and generosity of spirit that has become uncommon in Australian fiction (unless we think of an altogether different book, but on a similar scale, Alexis Wright’s Carpentaria, 2006). Sent in 1996 to report on the slow death of the Snowy River, Condon met the storied old-timer Ron Reid, who in his more than eighty years had rarely left the Dalgety region. From Reid’s yarns came the germ of a novel. Essentially, it is an affectionate and many-stranded variation on that old cultural chestnut in Australia: the search for the original of ‘Banjo’ Paterson’s ‘The Man from Snowy River’.