An Elegant Young Man by Luke Carman

Reviewed by
February 2014, no. 358
An Elegant Young Man

An Elegant Young Man

by Luke Carman

Giramondo, $19.95 pb, 192 pp, 9781922146458

An Elegant Young Man by Luke Carman

Reviewed by
February 2014, no. 358

Late in his first collection of anecdotal short stories, Luke Carman’s narrator, also named Luke Carman, realises that the magic in a book he loves, Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, cannot be replicated in his own life. He is stuck in Australia, and ‘Australia is not the place for ecstatic truth.’ Stuck, to be precise, in Sydney’s western suburbs, depicted as an uncultured wasteland of ‘high-rises, methadone clinics and car yards’. A complicated patchwork of ethnicities blankets this terrain: ‘Fairfield is full of Latinos’, ‘Cabra’s all about Asians’, ‘Penrith is just scumbag Aussies’, etc. It is more melting pot than multiculturalism, as Carman shows the youth leading dismal lives of depressing homogeneity. On ‘bone-grey streets spare and grim’, they drift about, squawking broken, racist language at one another, the ennui lifting only when the war cry is bawled: ‘you wanna punch on?’

An Elegant Young Man

An Elegant Young Man

by Luke Carman

Giramondo, $19.95 pb, 192 pp, 9781922146458

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