A venerable wordsmith

Taking a punt on Les Carlyon
by
November 2021, no. 437
Buy this book

A Life in Words: Collected writings from Gallipoli to the Melbourne Cup by Les Carlyon

Allen & Unwin, $39.99 hb, 464 pp

A venerable wordsmith

Taking a punt on Les Carlyon
by
November 2021, no. 437

I guess every reviewer comes to a book with expectations, especially when the author’s reputation precedes him or her. On opening this collection, I knew that Les Carlyon (who died in 2019) wrote well. I remember my parents reading him in The Age and murmuring approval of his lyrical style and, sometimes, the content. I knew he loved horses, the track, and the punt. To me these were disappointments to overlook: I have hated horse racing since I was a kid driving around with my grandfather in his Datsun, windows up and the races on. My grandfather never wound down the windows, presumably so he could hear the call: perhaps it was the lack of fresh air that poisoned me against the sport. And I knew that Carlyon had written huge tomes on war and the Australian experience: Gallipoli (2001) and The Great War (2006) won acclaim, sold well, and left some military historians with reservations about his scholarship. My expectations, mostly, were realised. I sped through A Life in Words, encountering witty and whimsical delights along the way.

Seumas Spark reviews 'A Life in Words: Collected writings from Gallipoli to the Melbourne Cup' by Les Carlyon

A Life in Words: Collected writings from Gallipoli to the Melbourne Cup

by Les Carlyon

Allen & Unwin, $39.99 hb, 464 pp

Buy this book

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