HomeGroupsTalkExploreZeitgeist
Search Site
This site uses cookies to deliver our services, improve performance, for analytics, and (if not signed in) for advertising. By using LibraryThing you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your use of the site and services is subject to these policies and terms.
Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Loading...

30 Days in Sydney: A Wildly Distorted Account

by Peter Carey

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
346559,496 (3.51)12
After living in New York for ten years novelist Peter Carey returned home to Sydney with the idea of capturing its ebullient character via the four elements. 'I would never seek to define Manhattan by asking my New York friends for stories of Earth and Air and Fire and Water,' he writes, 'but that is exactly what was in my mind as I walked through immigration at Kingsford Smith International Airport.' Carey draws the reader helplessly into a wild and wonderful journey of discovery and re-discovery. Reading this book is a very physical experience, as bracing as the southerly buster that sometimes batters Sydney's beauteous shores. Famous visual extravaganzas such as Bondi Beach, the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and the Blue Mountains all take on a strange new intensity when exposed to the penetrating gaze of Peter and his friends. Thirty Days in Sydney offers the reader a private glimpse behind the glittering facades and venetian blinds. It will exhilarate and enchant all who visit.… (more)
None
Loading...

Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 12 mentions

Showing 5 of 5
Somewhat surprisingly, this was a nice introduction to a brief visit to Sydney. It offers a little history, a little memoir and plenty of colourful storytelling set in a wide variety of Sydney locations. Carey tells stories about people from his earlier life in Sydney, combined with a contemporary visit to some of the same people. His scenes range from the Blue Hills behind Sydney to the straits offshore, managing to cover most of the tourist highlights, such as a climb up the Sydney bridge, a tour of the opera house and the ferry ride to Manley beach. He even manages to fit in many memorable un-touristy incidents, such as an attempt to go protect his friend’s home from a fast-moving forest fire.
Among the more memorable stories are two different tales of fighting the wild seas of Sydney’s outer harbour and southeast coast down into Bass Strait. The unforeseen hazards show why earlier mariners avoided the southern oceans and failed to find Australia until 1770. Carey also illustrates the ignorance, privation and corruption suffered by the first convict Britons who were sent to establish a colonial presence in Australia.
He fills his stories with concrete details of the colours, sounds and natural features that make them quite realistic. By the time I got to Sydney, I was looking forward to visiting the places he describes, and felt I knew a lot about them.
Carey is a novelist of renown, although I haven’t read any of his books, so I was not surprised that he could write a good story. It made me wonder, though, how factual the stories are. Did he really go through those incidents with his friends, or are they reworked to make a better story? Or are they all the products of a creative imagination? Some stories seem to be clearly fantasies, such as the dreamlike midnight climb to conquer the Sydney bridge. The histories seem to be solidly based in fact. These are all good questions to have in mind reading any travelogue, and they might not have been so prominent in my mind if Carey had not been a novelist.
The concrete details and storytelling approach that Carey uses make a nice complement to David Day’s Claiming A Continent, which I read at the same time. ( )
  rab1953 | Jul 26, 2018 |
This book has some stuff that is interesting to me, and then some of it I just couldn't wrap my head around so I skimmed over some chapters in a way like I almost gave up trying to figure out what they were about. I don't find it as gripping as I would like it to be, but some of those boating stories were a lot of fun to read. One of the reasons I read the book was for its Australian English, and I did get a dose of that. The writing isn't exactly boring, but I don't suppose this is one of Carey's better novels. And by reading this review you can tell that I feel average about this book. Even this review is nothing but indifferent. ( )
  siafl | Dec 13, 2010 |
Peter Carey returns to Sydney, from New York, in 2001, specifically to write this book. He's got a plan, which mostly involves hanging out with old friends and chatting to them about Sydney, basing his book on the three Chinese elements of earth, air, fire and water, but he gets waylaid along the way.

Peter Carey's friends are all rich and powerful now, so the books started off hanging out in a swankier bit of Sydney than I usually hang out in, so at the beginning I was preferring his recollections of his slumming it in Balmain when he first arrived in Sydney as a young man to the "now" content of the book.

Actually, most of the best bits were the history: while bushfires are a yearly occurrence every Christmas, there was a particular fear to the bush fires that encircled Sydney in 1994 (I too remember the ask raining down in the middle of the CBD); comments about the original settlers and convicts (I really must read more of Sydney's history); the unknown Arthur Stace writing "Eternity" in beautiful copperplate script on the sidewalks of Sydney (before my time, but I remember being mesmerised by a copycat "Eternity" as a small child).

But he gets sent off track of his initial themes and ideas by an old friend of his who has fallen on hard times, who takes him down Parramatta Road (not a beautiful stretch of Sydney) to the Blue Mountains (a beautiful piece on the outskirts of Sydney), where he's currently living in a cave. Matter of fact, several of his friends refuse to play ball with his ideas. While I have a sneaking suspicion that this isn't all true (in Carey's Wrong About Japan, he also invented a character who was the most interesting bit of the book), it definitely improved on the earlier "isn't Sydney beautiful" phase, because, let's face it, not all of us wake up to Harbour views every morning.

And there's a rather strange bit where he keeps on arguing with De Selby, an architect in Flann O'Brien's great The Third Policeman. While intriguing, it definitely seemed a bizarre and unnecessary aspect to the book.

Overall, I rather enjoyed this, but he was making bits of it up (I have never seen a conductor on a Sydney train!). I'm in two minds about this confabulation, because, like in Wrong about Japan, the best bits of the book were fictional. It's definitely a wildly distorted account, but it's fun seeing this city through someone else's eyes. ( )
1 vote wookiebender | Jul 31, 2010 |
I got the feeling of being in the city with Mr. Carey as I read this book. For me it was not so much a story about the city as it was a story about his history with Sydney. Kind of like a homecoming story, a short but memorable visit with old chums where the friendship has neither fully survived nor totally succumbed to the pressures of time. ( )
  syd1953 | Jan 6, 2008 |
Showing 5 of 5
no reviews | add a review

Belongs to Publisher Series

You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Canonical title
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Original title
Alternative titles
Original publication date
People/Characters
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Epigraph
Dedication
For Kelvin, Lester, Sheridan,
Marty, Jack and Geordie

'I had to rearrange their faces
and give them all another name.'
First words
Quotations
Last words
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Blurbers
Original language
Canonical DDC/MDS
Canonical LCC

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English

None

After living in New York for ten years novelist Peter Carey returned home to Sydney with the idea of capturing its ebullient character via the four elements. 'I would never seek to define Manhattan by asking my New York friends for stories of Earth and Air and Fire and Water,' he writes, 'but that is exactly what was in my mind as I walked through immigration at Kingsford Smith International Airport.' Carey draws the reader helplessly into a wild and wonderful journey of discovery and re-discovery. Reading this book is a very physical experience, as bracing as the southerly buster that sometimes batters Sydney's beauteous shores. Famous visual extravaganzas such as Bondi Beach, the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and the Blue Mountains all take on a strange new intensity when exposed to the penetrating gaze of Peter and his friends. Thirty Days in Sydney offers the reader a private glimpse behind the glittering facades and venetian blinds. It will exhilarate and enchant all who visit.

No library descriptions found.

Book description
“This is a fabulously idiosyncratic small masterpiece ... it’s so good it takes your breath away.”—Times (UK)After living abroad for years, novelist Peter Carey returns home to Sydney and attempts to capture its character. Seeking the help of his old friends, Carey is soon drawn into their strange, anarchic worlds, each one orbiting the place he has come back to see. The result is a wild and wonderful journey of discovery and rediscovery as bracing as the southerly bluster that sometimes batters Sydney’s shores. Famous sights such as Bondi Beach, the Opera House, the Harbour Bridge and the Blue Mountains all take on a strange new intensity when exposed to the penetrating gaze of the author and his friends.30 Days in Sydney offers the reader an enchanting glimpse behind the facades and the Venetian blinds of the city.
Haiku summary

Popular covers

Quick Links

Rating

Average: (3.51)
0.5
1
1.5 1
2 3
2.5
3 16
3.5 10
4 14
4.5 2
5 4

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.

 

About | Contact | Privacy/Terms | Help/FAQs | Blog | Store | APIs | TinyCat | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | Common Knowledge | 166,241,080 books! | Top bar: Always visible