His Illegal Self
Knopf, $45 hb, 272 pp
It is hard to become excited about Peter Carey’s new novel, and that is a hard notion to entertain. We are used to being tested, and vastly entertained, by Carey. For a quarter of a century he has written distinctive and highly original fiction, including two or three books (notably True History of the Kelly Gang  for this writer) that triumphantly fulfilled the novel’s enduring claim on our attention. This new work – though comparably imaginative in places – seems to mark not so much a falling-off as a kind of marking time.