The winner of Australia's prize for lifetime achievement in literature chronicles one family's unraveling and their tentative rapprochement forged through tragedy. Now, with The Slow Natives, Astley's wit, sense of irony, and ability to delineate human foibles link her to such grea The winner of Australia's prize for lifetime achievement in literature chronicles one family's unraveling and their tentative rapprochement forged through tragedy.
Now, with The Slow Natives, Astley's wit, sense of irony, and ability to delineate human foibles link her to such great observers of the human comedy as Graham Greene and Iris Murdoch. The Slow Natives takes place on that familiar battleground where middle age and adolescence confront each other, in a climate of hostile bewilderment, contempt, and reluctant love.
At its center are music teacher Bernard Leverson, bored with his job and his marriage; his wife, Iris, who is engaged listlessly in an affair; and their rebellious teenage son, Keith.
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Their path leads inevitably to tragedy, but also presses the Leversons toward a reappreciation of their lives and one another. Here is a novel that confirms Thea Astley as one of the best writers of our time.
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The Slow Natives by Thea Astley
Community Reviews. Showing Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Sep 27, 4triplezed rated it really liked it Shelves: australia , miles-franklin , my-fiction , thea-astley.
by Astley, Thea
Being a native slow one? The story itself is a very well written tale of a dysfunctional family and the consequences of that dysfunction. The parents Bernard, Iris and their son Keith were characterised beautifully by the author from the very start. This led me, the reader, to know them intimately and understand why they were what they were. The same could be said for every other protagonist that appeared. A sad spinster hating her past, a questioning priest feeling lost with his beliefs, authoritarian Monsignor and Mother Superior who lorded it over their flock made up further memorable characters.
My favourite was Chookie, a young man from the decidedly lower end of the socio economic scale who pushed my memory to remind me of a character who I went to school with.
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He spoke the same, was the same red-headed complexion and was the epitome of what we school mates thought of as a bit of a larrikin. My intrigue in itself was the use of language among the middle class families that played large part of the story. Did Brisbaneites of this social standing talk in this manner in the very early 60's?
The language of the book for long periods is hardly strine.
Brisbane was very much a big country town and stayed that way until well into the early 80's. The liberalism and education of the family groups that frequented this book seems to me to be, at the very least, the early stirrings of a change from the insularity that was then to what Brisbane is today, a cosmopolitan city of 2 million people that is not that far removed in attitude from anywhere else on the planet. And that is why I suspect this was a winner of the Miles Franklin at the time.
The Slow Natives – Thea Astley 1965
It covered themes that may not have been considered "normal" in Brisbane. A place behind the times. Even Bernard, with his middle class chat and liberal attitude towards his wife's peccadilloes was a music teacher assessing Bach. No Beatles for this middle class patriarch. Very much recommended to those with an interest in Australian Literature. If Astley Vanishing Points is ever to gain her well-deserved audience in the U. Focusing on a Brisbane family, the Leversons--passive Bernard, self-absorbed Iris, their rebellious teenage son Keith--the novel begins as social satire.
Gradually, the roots of Keith's loutish behavior, his desperate need for a father's firm hand, are established. The dialogue throughout is clever and brittle; Astley shows no mercy for cultural or social pretentiousness.
But the hard sheen of a comedy of manners gradually gives way to a deeper, more empathetic tone as she examines the lives of a somewhat eccentric but always credible cast of characters: a psychologically unhinged nun; a sexually starved spinster; a neglected, submarginally intelligent slum kid whose life intersects with Keith's. The ease with which Astley integrates her characters' lives is breathtaking. As the reader develops sympathy for Keith and for his suffering parents, the narrative acquires the tension of a thriller, sliding inevitably into tragedy--and a kind of redemption, too.
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