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ISBN: 978 1 857544 33 6
Imprint: Carcanet Poetry
Published: May 1999
216 x 135 mm
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Also available in: Hardback
In the old Turkish port of Trabzon, early in World War I, a German-Australian sailor by the name of Fred Boettcher witnesses the incineration of defenceless Armenian women by a crazed mob. Unable to intervene, his helplessness becomes physically manifest: he loses his sense of touch. This condition, which he conceals like a curse, is also something of a gift: it gives him great strength and immunity from pain. But it isolates him, too, especially from physical love.
In the five books of this ambitious novel, Fredy witnesses the tragedies and triumphs of the twentieth century. In the end it is the individual as a social and spiritual being who triumphs. Fredy Neptune has the global scope and heroic dimensions of Byron's Don Juan and a human abundance all its own. Life takes Fredy home, in search of his father and his mother, then across the globe to America where he survives the Wall Street Crash, travels as a hobo to Hollywood, acts in the movies, then leaves America in dramatic circumstances in an airship. In Germany he works for Zeppelins as the Nazis consolidate their power, rescues a mentally handicapped youth from the racial hygiene laws, and contrives his return to rural Australia, where his life revives through love: his world of feeling is restored.
Awards won by Les Murray , 1994 nomination for the Oxford Chair of Poetry. , 1996 T.S. Eliot Prize for the best collection (Subhuman Redneck Poems). , 1999 Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry.
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