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Issue Details: First known date: 2019... 2019 All Is Vanity : The Rich Man’s House by Andrew McGahan
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'Andrew McGahan’s first novel Praise (1992) was one of those books that captured the mood of its time and place. More than any other Australian novel of the early 1990s, it found a way to express the peculiar sense of disaffection and uncertainty inherited by those of us who just happened to come of age at the tail end of two decades of social and economic transformation, at the very moment an exhausted nation slumped into a recession. Its depiction of the seedy urban existence of its narrator Gordon Buchanan was greeted with a fusillade of clichéd adjectives (gritty, unflinching, confronting, and so forth) and hailed as a contribution to a confected genre that an especially witless hack decided to call ‘grunge’ — a literary movement notable for the fact that no one wanted to belong to it, least of all McGahan. But the significant aspect of all the sex and drinking and drug-taking described in the pages of Praise was that they were so ordinary. There was nothing edgy or rebellious or liberating or hedonistic about them; they were simply part of the texture of reality, commonplace activities that lacked even the residual glamour of decadence. They evoked a drab world of foreclosed possibilities, a world in which both the tattered countercultural ethos of the 1960s and the fluorescent crapulence of the 1980s had been exposed as empty promises. The passive cycle of drinking and drugging was presented as a numbing routine, a mundane way to pass the time while surveying a prospectless horizon. Sex was depicted with an emphasis on its unerotic complications: premature ejaculation, venereal disease, unwanted pregnancy, mismatched desires, a general sense of awkwardness and embarrassment.' (Introduction)

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Last amended 18 Nov 2019 07:38:38 All Is Vanity : The Rich Man’s House by Andrew McGahansmall AustLit logo Sydney Review of Books
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