Spirit of Progress
Fourth Estate, $29.99 pb, 347 pp, 9780732291181
At the beginning of Steven Carroll’s new novel, Spirit of Progress, Michael stands on a platform of the Gare Montparnasse in Paris. Readers of Carroll’s ‘Glenroy’ trilogy will remember that Michael is Vic and Rita’s son – a boy who grew up with an unblinking grasp of his parents’ fractured marriage and who learned early to fend for himself. Now a man, Michael observes the foreign trains and reminisces about his father’s love of engine driving. He realises then that his home suburb ‘will always claim him’ and that he has ‘a whole world inside his head … complete and vast, going about its daily life, constantly moving as if alive and still evolving’ (ellipsis in original).