MLA Gold Award Site

Excerpt from Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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

Parrot and Olivier in America

by Peter Carey

Parrot and Olivier in America
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Apr 2010, 400 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2011, 400 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt


He was a fright, I won’t pretend he wasn’t. For although he was a young man and had therefore often walked the earth and seen the sun, he seemed, at that moment, like one of those transparent creatures they say live in rivers far below the earth. His hair was fine as silk, and long and white, not like the English but the Swedes. His forehead was very tall, and so white and smooth it seemed as if it must be carved from ivory. He had pale projecting eyebrows, and eyes like water. “Now put it down,” he said.

“What?” I asked, having heard him perfectly.

“Put down the filthy pot,” he pleaded, “on the stinking floor.”

I saw no reason to be afraid of such a nervous creature, but when I obeyed he gave me an awful cuff across the head and took me by the ear and twisted it.

“If you ever leave me waiting again,” he whispered, “I will come out the hard way”—that was how he put it—“and Piggott don’t want that. Smell it,” he cried, his voice cracking. “Smell.”

He meant his room. I looked above his shoulder and saw he was like all men who work with black ink and white paper. That is, his printed sheets were as clean as sawn timber and his narrow bed was tightly made. He shared his snug space with a guillotine and the first iron hand press I ever saw. He was all hunched over, his arms were long and thin and he held them across his chest in a way that made me think of the roots of a pot-bound tree. I could not make out how tall he was.

It would be many years, on the other side of the world, before I understood that Piggott’s house had been designed by Nicholas Owen, a clever fellow who had devised the many hiding places for priests in the reign of Elizabeth I. Whether Piggott had inherited or purchased the property, I still don’t know. At the time, of course, I did not care, for while it had been easy enough to crawl along the tiny passageway, it was quite another matter to return, nudging and sliding the sloshing chamber pot. Gently, gently catchee monkey. This was now my job— penny both ways, a fortune—to bring Mr. Algernon Watkins his sandwiches and take away his slops three times a day and if I was ever to breathe so much as a word to anyone, then I would be murdered and my body bricked up inside the house. “That’s an exaggeration,” my father said.

Excerpted from Parrot and Olivier in America by Peter Carey. Copyright © 2010 by Peter Carey. Excerpted by permission of Knopf. 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" backstories
  • 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 $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

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

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
Victoria
by Daisy Goodwin

"A hit…The research is impeccable, the attention to detail, perfect." - The Sunday Mirror (UK)

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Second Mrs. Hockaday
    by Susan Rivers

    A love story, a story of racial divide, and a story of the South as it fell in the war.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win No Man's Land

No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien

Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.

Enter

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Ruler of the Night
    Ruler of the Night
    by David Morrell
    Amateur sleuth Thomas De Quincey is back in a mystery set in Victorian England. This time, he and ...
  • Book Jacket: A List of Cages
    A List of Cages
    by Robin Roe
    Robin Roe has written one helluva young adult debut novel. Alternating first person narratives by a ...
  • Book Jacket: Homesick for Another World
    Homesick for Another World
    by Ottessa Moshfegh
    The frizzy, freaky, funky, and frazzled all pile on in this much anticipated short story collection ...

Word Play

Solve this clue:

H W S W T Devil S H A L S

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 books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.