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Gould's Book of Fish (2001)
Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0802139590, Paperback)Gould's Book of Fish, an extraordinary work of fact-based fiction by Tasmanian author Richard Flanagan (Death of a River Guide) is a journey through the fringe madness of Down Under colonialism. Set during the 1830s in a hellish island prison colony off the Tasmanian coast, the novel plucks a real-life thief and prisoner, English forger William Buelow Gould, from the pages of history to act as protagonist-narrator. Through Gould's unique capacity to blend hyperbole, hyperrealism, and self-effacing honesty, the reader acquires a shockingly clear picture of daily torment on the island. Yet more remarkable is Gould's portrait of bizarre ambitions among prison authorities to further principles of art and science amidst so much misery. Key to such plans is Gould's talent as a painter and illustrator. The compound's surgeon, nursing hopes of publishing a definitive guide to the island's fish, leans heavily on Gould's ability to record the taxonomy of various species. Though Gould accommodates his masters, the manuscript, in his hands, becomes testimony to their perverse dreams of civilization and his own quick-witted survival instincts. Throughout, Flanagan never loses the well-imagined voice of Gould's candor or the character's dense descriptive powers, talents that translate into a thrilling text that reads like a blend of Melville and Burgess. --Tom Keogh
(retrieved from Amazon Fri, 08 Apr 2011 04:30:02 -0400)
The most remarkable novel yet from the internationally acclaimed author of Death of a River Guide and The Sound of One Hand Clapping, this is a marvelous historical epic of 19th century Australia, a world of convicts and colonists, thieves and catamites, whose bloody history is recorded in a very unusual taxonomy of fish. In 1828, before all living things were destroyed, William Buelow Gould, a convict in Van Dieman's Land, fell in love with a black woman and discovered, too late, that love is not safe.
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