Amnesia: Book summary and reviews of Amnesia by Peter Carey

Amnesia

A novel

by Peter Carey

Amnesia by Peter Carey X
Amnesia by Peter Carey
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2015
    320 pages
    Genre: Novels

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Book Summary

When Gaby Baillieux releases the Angel Worm into Australia's prison computer system, hundreds of asylum-seekers walk free. And because the Americans run the prisons (let's be honest: as they do in so many parts of her country) the doors of some five thousand jails in the United States also open. Is this a mistake, or a declaration of cyber war? And does it have anything to do with the largely forgotten Battle of Brisbane between American and Australian forces in 1942? Or with the CIA-influenced coup in Australia in 1975? Felix Moore, known to himself as "our sole remaining left-wing journalist," is determined to write Gaby's biography in order to find the answers—to save her, his own career, and, perhaps, his country. But how to get Gaby—on the run, scared, confused, and angry—to cooperate?

Bringing together the world of hackers and radicals with the "special relationship" between the United States and Australia, and Australia and the CIA, Amnesia is a novel that speaks powerfully about the often hidden past—but most urgently about the more and more hidden present.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

BookBrowse Review
"Certainly a good, intelligent book with a darkly funny writer at the center of it. The problem is that a true appreciation of it depends on your familiarity with Australian politics - tension with American soldiers during WWII, the political unrest of 1975. Contrary to the book-jacket blurb, it isn't really a thriller at all, so the motivation of an exciting plot isn't there. It's really about how a writer puts together 'the truth' out of research and testimony and imagination. All in all, an interesting novel some parts of which could be a stretch for an American audience." - Jennifer Wilder

Other Reviews
"Throughout the book, Carey's cartwheeling prose and dazzling intellect can be challenging to keep up with, but the book is worth the effort." - Publishers Weekly

"The novel overall is baggy, shifting from coder-speak to blunt dialogue to reportage. History is a complicated web, Carey reminds us, but this one is particularly sticky. A relatively forgettable entry in a top-shelf novelist's oeuvre." - Kirkus

"The brilliant Australian author explores digital activism, legacy journalism, US political interference and Australia's collective forgetfulness about its past in this probing but rollicking novel...Amnesia crackles with energy, inventive in its language (not least in its profanities) but never pretentious, emphasizing the value of straight talking and laughter." - Sunday Express (UK)

"Peter Carey is such a varied and intriguing novelist there are times when it seems he can write anything... [Amnesia is] exhilarating. It even has a viral twist at the end. As I said, Peter Carey can do anything." - The Independent (UK)

"Amnesia is exhilaratingly suffused with Carey's wild prodigality of invention....Amnesia glitters with nervy verbal inventiveness and pungent characterization. Carey conjures the longings and anxieties of his wayward teenaged idealists with the same pathos and precision with which he depicts the pains and disillusions of middle age." - Evening Standard (UK)

"A novel about the new American empire and its repercussions around the world, about technology and, most movingly, about family. It is slippery and compelling, written with the vivid precision that marks Mr. Carey's best work... Mr. Carey, who has already won the Man Booker prize twice should be in with a chance for a third prize next year." - The Economist (UK)

"All kinds of political trickery is afoot in this indignant, robustly and funny novel." - The Sunday Times (UK)

"A tale of betrayal, paranoia and conspiracy...Amnesia is at once a bold account of Australia's uncomfortable and slippery relationship with the United States and an ambitious meditation on the writer's uncomfortable and slippery relationship with facts and their audience...A terrific book." - The Independent (UK)

"Like many of Carey's books, Amnesia generates an aura of the fantastical but is completely grounded; it is high-spirited but serious, hectic but never hasty... It responds to some of the biggest issues of our time, and reminds us that no other contemporary novelist is better able to mix farce with ferocity, or to better effect." - The Guardian (UK)

This information about Amnesia shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

Reader Reviews

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Cloggie Downunder

an enjoyable read
Amnesia is the fourteenth novel by award-winning Australian novelist, Peter Carey. The Angel Worm: a virus that proves to be a security nightmare when it opens prisons around Australia. And worse still, infects the big parent security firm in the United States, attracting the ire of the CIA and other security entities. When the hacker is discovered to be a young Melbourne woman, journalist Felix Moore is surprised to find himself involved.

Actress Celine Baillieux is desperate to prevent her daughter, Gaby’s extradition to the United States for unleashing said virus, and calls on her old Uni mate to write a biography that will exonerate this feisty young woman. Property developer, Woody Townes, the man who has extracted Felix from many a dire situation, is enlisted to facilitate matters.

But is Felix, “the most controversial journalist of his age”, known for ruining reputations and manufacturing quotes (“He freely admitted that he not only made up quotes but had also been accused of making up quotes, ‘but never the quotes I actually made up.’”) the right person for the job? It seems Felix has a fixation on the role of the United States in Australia’s politics: the “Battle of Brisbane” and the 1975 Dismissal feature prominently in the tale he constructs.

Carey gathers together a diverse cast of characters, people the reader will recognise from everyday life: the Local Member intent of preserving image; the ageing actress isolated from her theatre milieu in a working-class suburb; the highly intelligent students able to run rings around security to further their cause; the property developer with a finger in many pies; petty crooks trying to make it big; and greenies determined to expose corporate cover-ups.

Carey gives the reader plenty of humour, both in the dialogue between the characters and in the predicaments in which he places his protagonist. Felix is charmed, spoiled, kidnapped, isolated, forced to live rough and made to produce his manuscript with technology that is virtually obsolete (cassette tapes, paper and a typewriter, no less!). The back-cover blurb is quite misleading, as the story goes in a completely different direction. The pace could perhaps have been faster: occasionally, the story seemed to lose momentum. Nonetheless, an enjoyable read.

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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 advertising 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 Fat Man in History in 1980.

He then wrote three ...

... Full Biography
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