Excerpt from The Unknown Terrorist by Richard Flanagan, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Unknown Terrorist

A Novel

by Richard Flanagan

The Unknown Terrorist by Richard Flanagan X
The Unknown Terrorist by Richard Flanagan
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2007, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2008, 336 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse Review Team
Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


The truth was that Ferdy had left his job at a pearl oyster hatchery in Broome a decade earlier with a bootload of Kimberley dope. He drove two thousand kilometres south, traded the dope and made enough to refill the boot with ecstasy he got through a contact in the Gypsy Jokers. He crossed the interminable length of the Nullarbor and made his way along the Great Ocean Road.

He liked to say he arrived in Melbourne in a ’73 Charger and left it a month later in a ’96 Beemer, making his way in that same year to Sydney, where he bought a half-share and the job as manager of a run-down bar, and invested what was left of his new wealth on refitting the bar with felt-lined tables and brass poles in the manner of the pole dancing clubs that were then becoming so popular. He would later recall those early years with the tone of feigned humility so many self-made men feel necessary:

“We had our hopes.”

Hopes were unnecessary, for the times, as he frequently told his customers,were his. In the Broome oyster hatchery he had spent the first fifteen years of his working life as a technician breeding vats of microscopic algae to be fed to juvenile oysters. All that mattered in that job had been getting several constants right, and thereafter never varying them. Ferdy applied the same principles to his management of the Chairman’s Lounge.

For he, a man come out of the red mystery of the Kimberley’s pindan dust into the blue certainty of the Kings Cross night, sensed in Sydney that the possibility of human community was a pointless dream, that cities revealed that men shared with algae the most natural destiny: meaninglessness confused by the inexplicable need to live. There were no words for any of it, but a pole dancing club seemed to him a better place than an algal fermentation vat to watch its cracked unravelling. That was what Ferdy felt. What he said, on the other hand, was banal, but not without its own related truth. “It’s all in the show,” Ferdy would say. And indeed it was.

Until the moment, a little after 7 pm, that he walked along the red carpet of the Chairman’s Lounge, headed down past the purple neon tubes and pulled from his Armani pants’ pocket a twenty-dollar note to pay a smiling woman the entry fee, Richard Cody’s day had been unhappy. He had slept poorly,woken to yet one more argument with his wife, then been called out by Six’s news producers to anchor the live crosses from a terrorist bomb scare at Homebush Olympic stadium.

There was a new makeup girl who had made his hair look ridiculous, then the OB van kept losing contact with the studio on the live crosses, and the whole story in any case quickly grew repetitive, then pointless: three bombs had been found, each in a kid’s backpack.The crowd was evacuated, the area sealed off. Nothing else would happen now.

He had continued saying the same thing over and over with his stupid hair and the studio dropping in and out, while a string of so-called experts—mostly consultants wanting a job as an expert in security, terror, politics—commented on each other’s remarks, which in turn repeated and elaborated the few brief comments made by the police and government spinners, all pretending that in this vortex of nonsense might be found some sign predicting what might next occur.

Only his Armani summer suit didn’t let him down, enduring the heat without crease or crumple. In middle age he had taken refuge in elegance, even when the temperature had not dropped below thirty-eight for five days and the humidity was stuck at ninety-four per cent. As his body thickened and leathered, as his hair thinned, Richard Cody believed his fine clothes helped assert a persuasive idea of himself as charming, sophisticated, clever: in short that his agreeable clothes helped the world concur with his agreeable idea of himself.

Excerpted from The Unknown Terrorist by Richard Flanagan © 2007 by Richard Flanagan. Excerpted by permission of Grove Atlantic. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for 3 months or $39 for a year.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Find out more

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Hades, Argentina
    Hades, Argentina
    by Daniel Loedel
    Daniel Loedel's debut novel, Hades, Argentina, opens in 1986 when we meet Tomás Orillo, a young...
  • Book Jacket: Dark Horses
    Dark Horses
    by Susan Mihalic
    Dark Horses is a shocking, heart-pounding debut; it's both a coming-of-age novel and an unflinching ...
  • Book Jacket: Best Laid Plans
    Best Laid Plans
    by Gwen Florio
    When starting a series, first impressions are key. Introducing a sympathetic or relatable ...
  • Book Jacket: Last Night at the Telegraph Club
    Last Night at the Telegraph Club
    by Malinda Lo
    Author Malinda Lo takes readers to Chinatown, San Francisco in 1954, where 17-year-old Lily Hu is ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Smalltime
    by Russell Shorto

    Family secrets emerge as a best-selling author dives into the history of the mob in small-town America.

    Reader Reviews
  • Book Jacket

    The Lost Apothecary
    by Sarah Penner

    A forgotten history. A secret network of women. A legacy of poison and revenge. Welcome to The Lost Apothecary.

    Reader Reviews
Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Narrowboat Summer
by Anne Youngson
From the author of Meet Me at the Museum, a charming novel of second chances.
Win This Book!
Win Band of Sisters

Band of Sisters
by Lauren Willig

"A crackling portrayal of everyday American heroines…A triumph."
— Fiona Davis

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

W T's Life T's H

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.