Thursday, July 01, 2010

Prize Twat


Jasper Jones, Allen & Unwin




I read this book last week. I wasn't planning on writing a review of it because it's a stiff. It has, however, just been declared the Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year.

The 25-year-old's writing has been widely compared to Mark Twain's and his winning novel as the Australian version of To Kill A Mockingbird, according to national broadcaster, the ABC. Really? Not by anyone who's read any Mark Twain or To Kill a Mockingbird I'll venture.

I'm sorry, but this is just embarrassing. This book is devoid of any moral centre, much less purpose - a mandatory attribute for any book being compared with the great Southern traditions of American literature. It's disjointed and almost autistic in its failure to offer an emotional connection of any kind. Instead it profers crude and superficial 'links' to substantial works (like To Kill a Mockingbird) that are no more than name checks. The narrative crawls up its own arse in the first chapter and then spends the interminable remainder trying to find its way out again, with questionable success.

This gushing over clever young things and their vacuous and shallow inventions gives me a frightful attack of the cultural cringes. I was fourteen in 1969 when this book is supposedly set and let me tell you Craig, we had not yet discovered English words like 'bollocks' and we certainly didn't refer to each other as 'tragics'. And it was quite a few years before Vietnamese refugees started to show up, even in cities. Whatever happened to creating a believable world? Ignorant. Lazy.

But then I thought The Slap was excrement and I think Alex Miller is positively unreadable so what would I know from the scribblings of show ponies and the airheads who fawn over them? I suppose I've been spoiled by Tim Winton. I've been conditioned to expect quality prose by a writer who really does know his Mark Twain and who has enough professional skill and respect for readers to paint an authentic picture of Western Australia in any era he chooses to animate.

C Minus poor fella my country - must try harder.