The Trout Opera by Matthew Condon

Random House Vintage, 9781740510325, November 2007, $32.95 (TPB) (UK pb).

First published in the October 2007 issue of BOOKSELLER + PUBLISHER magazine (c) 2007 Thorpe-Bowker (a division of RR Bowker LLC) http://www.bookseller+publisher.com.au/

Wilfred Lampe has experienced a whole century in the Snowy River town of Dalgety. He’s a part of the landscape, its consistencies and its alterations. The Olympic Commitee have him in mind as a representative of the values of Australia. But how can one life, so full of contradictions and challenges, be summed up in one brightly lit ceremony? Is it right to transform the complexities of a life into a series of symbols, and the life of a nation?

Aurora Beck stares in the face of death in Sydney. At 28 she has already traversed the country, dulling her experience with drugs. She lives in fear of her ex-boyfriend, Wynter. She, like Wilfred, lives alone. Graham Featherstone is a radio announcer whose personal life has fallen to pieces. He deplores the state of the country, the vacuity of consumerism, the voices that are not being heard.

These characters and others come together in a vividly descriptive and masterfully constructed narrative with questions about personal and collective history, the potency of place, and the disturbance and rapidity of change. The novel honours simplicity, substance, and peace, and laments the loss of closeness in a moment of quiet. An insightful, brilliant Australian novel, destined to become a classic. For fans of literary Australian fiction.

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