His Illegal Self: Book summary and reviews of His Illegal Self by Peter Carey

His Illegal Self

By Peter Carey

His Illegal Self

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Book Summary

His Illegal Self is the story of Che—raised in isolated privilege by his New York grandmother, he is the precocious son of radical student activists at Harvard in the late sixties. Yearning for his famous outlaw parents, denied all access to television and the news, he takes hope from his long-haired teenage neighbor, who predicts, They will come for you, man. They’ll break you out of here.

Soon Che too is an outlaw: fleeing down subways, abandoning seedy motels at night, he is pitched into a journey that leads him to a hippie commune in the jungle of tropical Queensland. Here he slowly, bravely confronts his life, learning that nothing is what it seems. Who is his real mother? Was that his real father? If all he suspects is true, what should he do?

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Carey's mastery of tone and command of point of view are very much in evidence in his latest novel (My Life as a Fake, 2004, etc.), which is less concerned with period-piece politics than with the essence of identity." - Kirkus Reviews.

"Carey’s unique take on the conflict between the need to belong and the dream of freedom during the days of rage over the Vietnam War is at once terrifying and mythic." - Booklist.

"This book is another triumph, among Carey’s other wonderful books. The man can write. He seems capable of anything." - Kent Haruf.

"Were it not for a couple of beautiful set pieces early on .... His Illegal Self would be an impenetrable mystery. As it is, its opacity is both a virtue and a frustration." - The Guardian (UK).

"At its best, this curious novel is a study of disorientation, of knowing neither where nor who one is; the unmapped Australian wilderness provides a strange and lovely analog to Jay's mysterious parentage." - The Village Voice

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Author Information

Peter Carey Author Biography

Photo: Maron Ettlinger

Peter Carey was born in 1943, in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, Australia.   His parents, who had a General Motors dealership, sent him to Geelong Grammar School, one of the leading private schools, "where the children of Australia's Best Families all spoke with English accents". He studied briefly at Monash University, but left after failing his first year science exams, after which he left to work as a copyrighter in advertisign agencies in Melbourne and London. He started to read passionately, especially the work of Joyce, Beckett, Kafka and Faulkner, and in 1964 he began to write.  He moved to Sydney in 1974 where he continued copyrighting.  His first collection of surreal short stories, War Crimes, was published in 1979, followed by The ...

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