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Everything I Knew by Peter Goldsworthy

Reviewed by
November 2008, no. 306
Christina Hill reviews 'Everything I Knew' by Peter Goldsworthy

Everything I Knew

by Peter Goldsworthy

Hamish Hamilton, $32.95 pb, 294 pp, 9780241015339

Everything I Knew by Peter Goldsworthy

Reviewed by
November 2008, no. 306

‘The past is another country. They do things differently there.’

L.P. Hartley

 

In his latest novel, Everything I Knew, Peter Goldsworthy uses this famous quotation. Indeed, it is so apposite that it might well have provided the epigraph. Everything I Knew is, in part, a self-conscious reworking of Hartley’s The Go-Between (1953). The first-person narrator, Robert Burns, is a naïve fourteen-year-old boy in desperate thrall to a young woman. But where the emotional life of Hartley’s boy protagonist is destroyed by the precipitate arrival of sexual knowledge, Everything I Knew subverts this notion.

The year is 1964 and the setting is Penola, a country town in South Australia. Robbie is a Year Seven schoolboy, precociously intelligent, restlessly pubescent. His father is the town policeman and his mother a well-meaning but stolid housewife. The community is narrow; everyone knows everyone else. At the beginning of the novel, Robbie is beginning to outgrow Billy, his best friend from primary school, an Indigenous boy with a reputation for getting into trouble that Robbie, to a lesser extent (being white), shares.


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Christina Hill reviews 'Everything I Knew' by Peter Goldsworthy

Everything I Knew

by Peter Goldsworthy

Hamish Hamilton, $32.95 pb, 294 pp, 9780241015339

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