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The Resource His illegal self, by Peter Carey

His illegal self, by Peter Carey

Label
His illegal self
Title
His illegal self
Statement of responsibility
by Peter Carey
Creator
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Storyline
Pace
Tone
Writing style
Character
Award
New York Times Notable Book, 2008
Review
  • Two-time Booker Prize winner Carey has a thing for outlaws, whether he's writing about the famous folk hero Ned Kelly or schemers involved in a literary hoax or art crime. He also has a gift for bringing to creepy-crawly and blistering life Australia's jungle and desert wilds. His latest spectacularly involving and supremely well made novel of life on the edge begins in New York as Che, a boy of seven living with his rich, no-nonsense grandmother, takes off with a woman festooned with beads and bells. It's 1972, and Che is certain that he and his fugitive mother will join his father, the FBI's most wanted. But things go awry quickly and irrevocably, and he and Dial (short for dialectics) end up in Australia with a band of scary off-the-grid hippies. Precocious, observant, and resourceful, Che becomes suspicious of Dial and the reason for their wretched exile as he scrambles to protect himself from dangers natural and human. For every lurch forward, Carey throws this psychologically astute and diabolically suspenseful novel in reverse to reveal the truth about Dial and her love for the boy. Carey's unique take on the conflict between the need to belong and the dream of freedom during the days of rage over the Vietnam War is at once terrifying and mythic. -- Seaman, Donna (Reviewed 11-15-2007) (Booklist, vol 104, number 6, p5)
  • Adult/High School— It is 1972 and seven-year-old Che Selkirk, the son of radical parents he has never met, lives in isolated privilege with his well-to-do grandmother. Denied access to television and the news, he picks up scraps of information about his outlaw mother and father from a teenage neighbor who assures Che that his parents will come and "break you out of here." When a woman named Dial arrives at the boy's Park Avenue apartment to take him on a day excursion, he assumes that she is his mother. Unfortunately, things go terribly awry and Che becomes a fugitive himself. He and Dial end up in the Australian bush in an inhospitable commune. Carey uses a stream-of-consciousness style that poignantly communicates Che's confusion about his life on the lam and what he really wants. The explosive conclusion is worth the wait as the author vividly portrays the hardscrabble, primitive life of a group of hippies in his native Australia. Young adults will appreciate His Illegal Self for its main character-an orphan by circumstance-who struggles to understand his predicament and ultimately gains not only wisdom, but also the love he has sought.—Pat Bangs, Fairfax County Public Library, VA --Pat Bangs (Reviewed June 1, 2008) (School Library Journal, vol 54, issue 6, p170)
  • Carey, who has made a career out of boring into the psyches of scoundrels, delivers a cunning fugitive adventure set largely in the wilds of Australia. Raised by his boho-turned-bourgeois grandmother on New York's Upper East Side, Che Selkirk, seven years old in 1972, hasn't seen his Weathermenesque parents since he was a toddler, but when a young woman who calls herself Dial walks into Che's apartment one afternoon, he believes his mother has finally come. Within two hours, Dial and Che are on the lam and heading for Philly as Che's kidnapping hits the news. Unexpected trouble strikes, and soon the boy and Dial, who doesn't know how or if to tell Che that she is only a messenger who was supposed to escort him to meet his mother, land in a hippie commune in the Australian outback. The novel sags as Dial, with the help of local illiterate “feral hippie” Trevor, tries to make the primitive living situation work; the drama consists largely of commune infighting and the travails of living without running water, but the narrative eventually regains its thrust and barrels toward a bang-up conclusion. While this novel lacks the boldness of Theft or the sweep of Oscar and Lucinda , it's still a fine addition to the author's oeuvre. (Feb.) --Staff (Reviewed October 8, 2007) (Publishers Weekly, vol 254, issue 40, p34)
  • The violent tactics of the Weathermen of the 1960s have inspired several excellent novels in recent years, notably Susan Choi's American Woman (2003) and Dana Spiotta's Eat the Document (2006). Both deal with the experience of living as a fugitive inside the United States, with a menial job and a fake ID. Australian novelist and Booker Prize winner Peter Carey offers a slightly different take on sixties radicalism. Carey's heroine Dial (short for Dialectic) has just landed her dream job at Vassar when she gets a call from her flamboyant friend Susan Selkirk, a gun-toting radical wanted by the FBI. Putting Vassar on hold, Dial ends up escaping to Australia with Selkirk's son Che, where they move into a ramshackle hippie commune in the outback. Most of the book describes their daily struggle to make a home together. Carey is more interested in exploring Dial's motives and Che's sense of identity than he is in rehashing American politics. Indeed, for an author best known for vivid period pieces like True History of the Kelly Gang (2000), this is a strangely unhistorical work. Emotionally charged but awkwardly constructed and slow-moving, this effort is not up to Carey's usually high standards. For larger fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/07.]—Edward B. St. John, Loyola Law Sch. Lib., Los Angeles --Edward B. St. John (Reviewed January 15, 2008) (Library Journal, vol 133, issue 1, p80)
  • /* Starred Review */ This isn't the first fictional work to explore the militant radical underground of the late 1960s and early '70s, but it may well be the best.What freshens the familiar material is the child's-eye perspective with which Carey begins the story. Impressions and chronology take time to coalesce, as seven-year-old Che (called "Jay" by the patrician grandmother who has raised him) has little idea what is happening to him or why. Take the title as irony, because Che is the embodiment of innocence, with his only possible guilt by association. Most of what Che knows about his parents he has learned from his babysitter, who has promised him that he will be liberated: "They will break you out, man. Your life will start for real." Both his mother and his father, neither of whom he knows, are notorious underground militants, and Che himself has some sort of fame from a photo taken of him as a baby with his mother at a demonstration. One afternoon, the babysitter's prophecy appears to come true, as a woman whom Che believes to be his mother visits and flees with him. Whatever the relation between the two, a bond develops between Che and the captor/rescuer he has been told to call "Dial." As the novel's perspective shifts between the two characters, it appears that Dial has little more idea than Che what is going on. She has risked her career as a fledgling professor at Vassar to take the boy, and whatever relation she has with him, she has a history with the boy's father. The action quickly shifts from New York—where Che's grandmother lives, as does the novelist—to Australia, where Carey was born and raised and where revelation awaits for both the characters and the reader. Carey's mastery of tone and command of point of view are very much in evidence in his latest novel (My Life as a Fake, 2004, etc.), which is less concerned with period-piece politics than with the essence of identity. (Kirkus Reviews, November 1, 2007)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
215061
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorDate
1943-
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Carey, Peter
Dewey number
823/.914
Index
no index present
Interest level
UG
LC call number
PR9619.3.C36
LC item number
H57 2008
Literary form
fiction
Reading level
5.2
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
Study program name
Accelerated Reader AR
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Mothers and sons
  • Radicals
  • Queensland
Label
His illegal self, by Peter Carey
Instantiates
Publication
Note
"This is a Borzoi Book."
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
650899
Edition
First U.S. edition.
Extent
271 pages ;.
Isbn
9780307263728
Isbn Type
(alk. paper)
Lccn
2007042862
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9780307263728
  • (OCoLC)154799600
Label
His illegal self, by Peter Carey
Publication
Note
"This is a Borzoi Book."
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
650899
Edition
First U.S. edition.
Extent
271 pages ;.
Isbn
9780307263728
Isbn Type
(alk. paper)
Lccn
2007042862
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9780307263728
  • (OCoLC)154799600

Library Locations

    • Central LibraryBorrow it
      710 W. Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX, 78701, US
      30.2713021 -97.7460168
    • Old Quarry BranchBorrow it
      7051 Village Center Dr., Austin, TX, 78731, US
      30.3529975 -97.7551561
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