Review: Murray Bail’s “The Pages”

by writereaderly

murray bail the pagesOpshopped because I’d both loved and loathed Eucalyptus (remember to leave your feminism at the door with that one, folks), I must note here my admiration of the very attractive, savvy hardback edition I was lucky enough to score. Printed and dustjacketted in an image of paperbark, lovely calligraphic title and author name, smartly deckled edges to the creamy stock – a sophisticated reminder of the aforementioned novel, and a good dose of Australianism to get in the Ocker Lit set. Nice publishing work, that, damned good design.

But anyway, to the contents of The Pages. Philosopher Erica is sent to country NSW to assess the philosophical life’s work of reclusive Wesley Antill. Her smart-bimbo friend Sophie accompanies her; they stay with Antill siblings Roger and Lindsey (female). Words are exchanged, silence is experienced, philosophy is contemplated.

I think this is a solid but not a profound novel. I was absorbed by it, Bail has a way with words, his characters and settings are artful, but I don’t think anything from this novel will stay with me. I’m not even sure what it was *about* – the best I can come up with is an analysis of barriers or separations, created by words, distance, land, proximity, thoughts… diverse definitions and manifestations of philosophies in life… But to what end, I have no idea. A pleasant read (though the “rescue” was a bit tossy), not an evil way of spending a few hours.

Where it came from: Opshop
Time and manner of reading:
A kaleidoscope bed-sample, then an absorbed armchair evening
Where it went: UPB
Reminds me of/that:
Who I’d recommend it to: Seekers of a nice bit of lit-fluff
Also reading: Rabbit #4; How to Read a Poem by Edward Hirsch; The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon; Being Alive edited by Neil Astley