Peter Twohig

The Torch by Peter Twohig

May 2015, no. 371

Peter Twohig’s The Torch recaptures the tone and narrative structure of its prequel, The Cartographer (2012). The earlier novel is superficially an adventure story. With recurrent allusions to Tom Sawyer (1876) and Kim (1901), the plo ...

The unnamed, eleven-year-old narrator protagonist of The Cartographer has an epileptic fit after witnessing a horrific rape-murder. The year is 1959. His father has just left the family days after his identical twin brother was killed by faulty playground equipment. The child’s closest friend is his wheeler-dealer grandfather, but it is in his own head that he thrives. To act out his grief he inhabits a series of superheroes, chief among them the Cartographer, creator of an intricate, pictorial, ever-growing map of Richmond and Melbourne’s south-eastern suburbs, above and below ground. Cartography (he learns the word from an old army manual) is his way of avoiding trouble. Unfortunately, trouble follows him wherever he goes.

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