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The Gift of Speed
de Steven Carroll
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Even though I was around during the 50s and 60s evoked, quite accurately, in this novel, I'm apparently the odd man out in finding the book a bit tedious. I don't doubt that lots of people will enjoy it, but I found the writing rather slow and there's a wry repetitive streak throughout that loses its efficacy after a few smiling moments. For the many lovers of Steven Carroll I can only ask for your sympathy. ( )
Top read! This is easy reading, but it's not at all superficial. It is unashamedly Australian in its setting and outlook, but in a way that didn't make me cringe or feel like I was an American being targetted with a romantic view (e.g. a rubbish book by Di Morrissey). The story includes three generations and I'm at the age where I can vouch for the verisimilitude of characters of all ages. It's definitely written from a male perspective, but it's not without a touch of the traditional feminine. My first Steven Carroll book, and I've got another ready to go already!
The Gift of Speed is Steven Carroll's sequel to his 2001 novel, The Art of the Engine Driver, which was also shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award.
Everyone in this novel is obsessed with speed, in one form or another. Michael, the twelve-year-old of the first book, is now sixteen and fixated on the concept of speed - the speed of a fast bowler. He practices in his backyard continuously, shattering the side fence, and driving the neighbours and his family to distraction with the thump of leather ball against the palings. Katherine, Michael’s orphaned friend from the girls’ home, is racing to a new life somewhere else. Webster, the local factory owner, hides his secret passion, an E type Jag, from his wife and drives it fast through the outer suburbs of Melbourne late at night. Vic, Michael's father, is a retired train driver - he loves the sound of diesels in the distance and dreams of slowing down and leaving his life behind for a new start in a town on the coast. Rita, Michael's mother, is tired of the slow life but is doomed to live it. Mary, Michael's grandmother, is old and just slowing down.
I don’t know anything about cricket – and have no wish to change this now after a lifetime spent actively avoiding it – odd, for an Aussie just a decade younger than Michael. So I had no idea about the people and games mentioned as backdrop here - the apparently famous1960-61 West Indies cricket tour of Australia. The cricket motif flowing through this tale could have been off-putting – but it wasn’t. It was simply the ‘white noise’ I grew up with, providing a remembered setting for the lives of the every-day people in this suburban frontier.
Once again, Carroll has drawn an image of an Australia that is long gone - on that is calm and ordered, slow-paced and friendly. This is familiar territory for me - I know these people, these places and these times.
It was a time when kids disappeared for the day and only came home for dinner; when it was possible to stop in the street and listen to the cricket coming from windows and shops; when people moved their lounges and TVs out onto the lawn on the long, hot summer evenings; and when a first kiss was imbued with promise.
Life moves languidly along in this world, as it should, at the speed of contemplation. Today's frenetic world is poorer in many ways for the comparison.
A book set in surburbia in Melbourne where ordinary life just goes on. It is 1960 and the West Indies have come to play cricket in Australia. We are introduced to Michael who dreams of becoming a great cricketer and having the gift of speed as he works daily on his bowling. We meet his parents Vic and Rita whose marriage has gone stale and Vics mother who is reminiscing, about her past and bringing up her son as an illegitimate child. We follow these people and others in the surburb through the summer and when the summer ends we find that Michael particularly has learnt something about himself and his parents, and has discovered that there are other things in life besides the gift of speed that can bring him joy and happiness. This is due in some way to a girl called Kathleen Marsden that he has come to know in a different way over the summer before she moved out of his life. But he in turn has given something to her, an orphan, who has no family to take an interest in her. Very readable.
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Wikipedia en anglès (1)
"In 1960 the West Indies arrive in Australia and Michael, who is sixteen, is enthralled. If, like his heroes, he has the gift of speed, he will move beyond his suburb into the great world ... As his summer unfolds, Michael realises that there are other ways to live. When the calypso chorus accompanying Frank Worrell and his team fades, Michael has learnt many things ... about his parents, a girl called Kathleen Marsden, and about himself. The Gift of Speed is a masterful blend of story-telling, memorable characters and a uniquely Australian sensibility by a novelist at the height of his powers."--Provided by publisher.
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Classificació Decimal de Dewey (DDC)823.914Literature English & Old English literatures English fiction Modern Period 1901-1999 1945-1999
LCC (Clas. Bibl. Congrés EUA)
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