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اثر پیتر کری از انتشارات قطره - مترجم: امیلی امرایی-داستان علمی تخیلی

If, in some post-Marxist utopia, obesity were declared counterrevolutionary, how would a houseful of fat men strike back? If it were possible to win a new body by lottery, what kind of people would choose ugliness? If two gun-toting thugs decided to take over a business—and run it through sheer terror—how far would their methods take them? These are the questions that Peter Carey, brilliantly explores in this collection of stories. Exquisitely written and thoroughly envisioned, the tales in The Fat Man in History reach beyond their arresting premises to utter deep and often frightening truths about our brightest and darkest selves.


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As If

Many of the reviews of this fantastic collection of short stories mention the following comment by Peter Carey:

@The trouble with academics is that they try too hard to understand these stories ....

@They should relax. The stories are only about what they seem to be about.

@They are, if you like, a collection of what if stories. I took a dozen or so hypotheses and asked what would happen if [email protected]


Try as I did to avoid citing this comment, it sums up the appeal of the collection perfectly.

I love the expression @what if”, not to mention the German phrase, @als [email protected]

I even started to mark every time I saw the word @[email protected] in the book, to see what I might discover.

Yet, the more I contemplated Carey’s comment, the more I appreciated how glib and potentially self-deprecating it is, in an almost typically Australian way.

When anybody sits down and wonders whether and what if, they are effectively utilizing their imagination.

So Carey was really just explaining the creative process in the simplest possible language he could conceive.

His comment and his approach are at once both simple and profound.

The Sweetest Manoeuvres

The closest literary analogies I can think of are Italo Calvino, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Heinrich Böll and Franz Kafka.

Peter Carey’s fiction was first published by University of Queensland Press.

This was a happy coincidence for me, because it was based in my home city of Brisbane, even though I went to University in Canberra.

The Publication Manager at UQP at the time, Craig Munro, was of particular interest to me, because he had written a biography of the politician P.R. (Inky) Stephenson, and my nickname since primary school had been @[email protected]

Peter Carey’s first work was somehow recognizable as Australia or parts of the world that Australians might visit. Yet, it was somehow also otherworldly (like @Mad [email protected]).

This world was a product of the imagination. Isolated, insulated from the rest of the world, like the rest of us, Carey created a vivid world of his own.

It was like an adolescent virgin male dreaming of what sex might be like. Your visions are almost better than the real thing:

@He is on top of her and she, giggling and groaning, manoeuvres sweetly below him, reciting nursery rhymes with her [email protected]

Unravelled Dreams and Shadows

At the same time, as with your first sexual experience or first venture into the world, there was a real risk that it might all come undone. Even asleep, the narrators head is filled with @unraveled [email protected]

In the story @[email protected], the male protagonist undresses a woman in his bedroom, until she is wearing nothing but an earring. She pleads with him to leave it in place, but he is compelled to use force:

@It is not, it would appear, an earring at all, but a zip or catch of some sort. As I pull, her face, then her breasts, peel away. Horrified, I continue to pull, unable to stop, until I have stripped her of this unexpected [email protected]

There are more layers to come, but you will have to discover them yourself.

A Shadow of Your Future Self

Just as there are layers, there are boundaries, some self-imposed:

@Daphne was not a beautiful girl, although she had a striking body with very long legs and big tits which she displayed to their most incredible advantage.

@...during this summer she moved in with Eddie, and Eddie was frightened, flattered, and almost in love with her.

@He felt like a man whos bought a racing car hes too frightened to drive fast.”


Equally, we are plagued by our shadows:

@…shadows are merely mirrors to the soul, and the man who stares into a shadow box sees only himself, and what beauty he finds there is his own beauty, and what despair he experiences is born of the poverty of the spirit.”

Of Beauties and Mysteries One Can Only Imagine

This is the world within which Carey works. Only, he proceeds to manufacture one more shadow, the shadow cast by his own creativity:

@…elusive, unsatisfactory, hinting at greater beauties and more profound mysteries that exist somewhere before the beginning and somewhere after the [email protected]

For an Australian, these beauties and mysteries might also exist somewhere other, somewhere more exotic, than Australia.

When it was first published, this collection captivated me, as did, in a lesser way, the follow-up, @War [email protected]

I never really warmed to Careys first novel, @[email protected], or his subsequent novels. I never really gave them a chance though. I was too enthralled by my first love.

I have to remedy this myopia. I have to make room for new loves.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
If theres one thing I think goes against postmodernist writers, it might be that they are sometimes too clever for their own good, creating dense stories full of pointless cerebration, without taking the most important factor into consideration, the reader. Thankfully for me breezing through Peter Carey for the first time I found he didnt suffer from this problem. The stories that make up this collection were both stimulating and entertaining, without being pompous or impenetrable. Carey mixes science fiction, surrealism, naturalism and capitalism to great effect, along with the title story, another two I found really good were @War [email protected] and @Puzzling Nature of [email protected], examining human nature from different angles, he never loses sight of the characters humanity, something that is widely done in fiction . Not all stories grabbed me however, two or three I didnt particularly like, but most range from being good to very good, I wouldnt say any of the stories reach masterpiece status though. Was expected something much more weird and obscure, but overall I was surprised at just how accessible they were. I applause his splendid writing here, but will definitely need to read one of his novels before heaping too much praise on him.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
Review by Helen Hagemann
The Fat Man in History, first published in 1974 by UQP, is a collection of twelve short stories and the least well known of Carey’s work. The stories contain many aspects of Australian life, its landscape and people. The title story, The Fat Man in History, is about a group of rather large men who live in a share house, yet they are the “Fat Men Against the [email protected] (fat now being synonymous with reactionary). Peeling depicts the relationship of an older man imposing his sexual impulses on his upstairs neighbour, an abortionist and collector of dolls. “Peeling” is a simulacrum of ‘peeling an onion’ where the man strips down her body to reveal one of her bare, white painted dolls. American Dreams has a simple premise of a man building a wall around his property. It is also a satirical look at how townsfolk dream their American dreams. They watch American films at the Roxy, and dream, if not of America, then at least of becoming wealthy, owning modern houses, and big motor cars. Their hometown, it seems, is the least of their concern when it comes to their aspirations.

On another level, however, the stories in this volume remain simply fantastical tales of seemingly foreign worlds and unlikely situations: ten years after its publication Carey said of the collection, @The trouble with academics is that they try too hard to understand these stories .... They should relax. The stories are only about what they seem to be about. They are, if you like, a collection of what if stories. I took a dozen or so hypotheses and asked what would happen if [email protected]

Peter Carey was born in 1943 in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria where his parents ran a car dealership. He worked in advertising and wrote fiction in his spare time. Four of his novels were rejected before his short story collection, The Fat Man In History, was published which made him an overnight success.

He has won the Booker Prize twice, his first in 1988 for Oscar and Lucinda, the second time in 2001 with The True History of the Kelly Gang. Carey has won the Miles Franklin Award three times and his latest books are Parrot and Olivier in America (2010) & The Chemistry of Tears (2012). Married for the third time, Carey has two sons and lives in New York.

I have read his novels including Bliss, The Tax Inspector, Oscar & Lucinda and Jack Maggs, however I think his collection The Fat Man in History was a superior read, a great page turner and probably because of all the stories quirky premise, believe it was way ahead of its time.

Helen Hagemann (2012)

مشاهده لینک اصلی
A flippant cruelty animates these clumsily-sketched cartoons.

مشاهده لینک اصلی
** spoiler alert ** The entirety of these stories is wonderful, but the most affecting by far is @The [email protected] The story involves Paul, who in his current incarnation, resembles a street fighter, and Carla, one of the extremely beautiful Hups, who have vowed to endure the Lottery so as to truly embody the proletariat by being one of them. Paul does not want Carla to undergo this change; however, she cannot be swayed from fulfilling this desire. The reader is treated to a tearful love story until we come to 17: @In the dark, in the night, something woke me. My tongue furry, my eyes like gravel, my head still dulled from the dope and drink, half-conscious I half saw the woman sitting in the chair by the bed. A fat woman weeping. I watched her like television. A blue glow from the neon lights in the street showed the coarse, folded surface of her face, her poor lank greying hair, deep creases in her arms and fingers like the folds in babies skin, and the great drapery of chin and neck was reminiscent of drought-resistant cattle from India. It was not a fair time, not a fair test. I am better than that. It was the wrong time. Undrugged, ungrogged, I would have done better. It is unreasonable that such a test should come in such a way. But in the deep grey selfish folds of my mean little brain I decided that I had not woken up, that I would not wake up. I groaned, feigning sleep and turned over. Carla stayed by my bed till morning, weeping softly while I lay with my eyes closed, sometimes sleeping, and sometimes listening. In the full light of morning she was gone and had, with bitter reproach, left behind merely one thing: a pair of her large grey knickers, wet with the juices of her unacceptable desire. I placed them in the rubbish bin and went out to buy more [email protected] It in this section that Carey demonstrates his true talent. The remonstration of the knickers Carla left for Paul @wet with the juices of her unacceptable [email protected] is perfect, full of scornful anger and rebuke. Carey follows this story with @The Puzzling Nature of Blue,@ a complete contrast to the rejection of the no-longer-beautiful woman. Carey obviously understands feminist theory quite well, for in @The Puzzling Nature of Blue,@ there is also a couple, the wife initially hating the husband, and then accepting him, a reception so complete that the story ends with her taking her husbands penis in her mouth, despite the fact that the entirety of his body is now blue.

*I realize that all of the stories in this collection are a railing against American colonialism in the 1970s, but I did not perform a metaphorical analysis. The literal textual analysis of these two stories was shattering enough.

*For fun: Find all the mentions of blue.

*Thank you, Michelle, for always finding wonderful reading material for me in the darkest of times.

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