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Extinctions

by Josephine Wilson

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13610170,784 (3.9)6
He hated the word 'retirement', but not as much as he hated the word 'village', as if ageing made you a peasant or a fool. Herein lives the village idiot. Professor Frederick Lothian, retired engineer, world expert on concrete and connoisseur of modernist design, has quarantined himself from life by moving to a retirement village. His wife, Martha, is dead and his two adult children are lost to him in their own ways. Surrounded and obstructed by the debris of his life - objects he has collected over many years and tells himself he is keeping for his daughter - he is determined to be miserable, but is tired of his existence and of the life he has chosen. When a series of unfortunate incidents forces him and his neighbour, Jan, together, he begins to realise the damage done by the accumulation of a lifetime's secrets and lies, and to comprehend his own shortcomings. Finally, Frederick Lothian has the opportunity to build something meaningful for the ones he loves. Humorous, poignant and galvanising by turns, Extinctions is a novel about all kinds of extinction - natural, racial, national and personal - and what we can do to prevent them.… (more)
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» See also 6 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
EXTINCTIONS (2018), a novel by Josephine Wilson, had lots going for it - set in Australia, written by an Australian, old folks (widowed,retired teachers) newly moved into a 'senior' community as protagonists, some complex family dynamics, including a brain-damaged son, an adopted biracial daughter, grief and loss, with some family secrets thrown in, adultery, drug addiction, some sordid aborigine history, etc. All this, and I found it at a library sale in mint, like-knew condition for just fifty cents! It was a must-buy, and turned out to be a riveting read. You wanna know more? Read the book. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Very highly recommended.

- Tim Bazzett author of the memoir, BOOKLOVER ( )
  TimBazzett | Nov 20, 2021 |
Professor Frederick Lothian has had a tragic life. >ii
Fed is a 69-year-old retired academic engineer when we meet him. He's living at St Sylvan’s retirement village. He dislikes most people, especially his next door neighbour, Jan. But she plays an instrumental part in him changing his life.

We get to know this irascible, impetuous and unaware man intimately. He doesn't understand figurative speech, his wife or his two children. One of his children is an adopted Aboriginal girl, Caroline. The other, his son, Callum, is a paraplegic, the result of a car crash.

Fred retired from life long ago. He doesn't like anyone. He disconnects his phone. Enter Jan, his chatty next door neighbour who has dozens of budgerigars. She helps make Fred realise he has been clueless to his family's feelings and needs. We learn about Fred's catastrophic past by flashbacks. I found these forays into the past interrupted the narrative flow.

Extinctions was the winner of the 2015 Dorothy Hewett Award for an Unpublished Manuscript and the 2017 Miles Franklin award.

( )
  Neil_333 | Mar 6, 2020 |
4.5 Fred is in the latter part of his sixties, living in a senior village, and not very happy about that fact. His wife has died, and though we know he has two children, their is a rift between them, though the details are not yet apparent. Those are revealed as we read further. His thoughts are at times amusing, but he seems stuck on himself, or within himself. Quite pompous, and wants to keep away from most of the other residents, not get involved in this life he now finds himself within.

This is one of those questionsuiet books, that slowly works it's way into the heart of the reader. A family, missed opportunities, regrets, blindness, and an inability to see what went wrong. This changes as almost against his will he is bull dozered by the wonderful elderly lady who lives in the small house, next to his. Jan, is amazing, doesn't let Fred off with his excuses, but eventually has a most positive influence on his life. Quite amusing at times, sad too, when we find out more about his past.

Alienation, the sense of never belonging. Australia's indigenous people, and the harm done to them in the past, that carried into the present. Strong characters, strong writing. A story of moving forward, finding ones place, and finally forgiving oneself. A lovely, heartfelt story.

ARC from Edelweiss ( )
  Beamis12 | Dec 19, 2018 |
A grumpy old engineer reflects on his life
It is a complex tangle of relationships that examines life-changing events
I wasn't expecting the illustrations and was surprised and intrigued by them ( )
  devilish2 | Nov 10, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 10 (next | show all)
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Who is prepared to deprive life of a significant denouement?  
Jean Amery
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For Christopher Hill,
   who understands
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Out the window there was nothing that could be called poetry, nothing windswept, billowing, tossing or turning in a streaky sky, nothing other than a taut blue dome and the low drone of air conditioners.
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He hated the word 'retirement', but not as much as he hated the word 'village', as if ageing made you a peasant or a fool. Herein lives the village idiot. Professor Frederick Lothian, retired engineer, world expert on concrete and connoisseur of modernist design, has quarantined himself from life by moving to a retirement village. His wife, Martha, is dead and his two adult children are lost to him in their own ways. Surrounded and obstructed by the debris of his life - objects he has collected over many years and tells himself he is keeping for his daughter - he is determined to be miserable, but is tired of his existence and of the life he has chosen. When a series of unfortunate incidents forces him and his neighbour, Jan, together, he begins to realise the damage done by the accumulation of a lifetime's secrets and lies, and to comprehend his own shortcomings. Finally, Frederick Lothian has the opportunity to build something meaningful for the ones he loves. Humorous, poignant and galvanising by turns, Extinctions is a novel about all kinds of extinction - natural, racial, national and personal - and what we can do to prevent them.

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