RARA-AVIS: Australian Noir : Andrew McGahan

From: E. Borgers ( webeurop@yahoo.fr)
Date: 15 Jun 2007

A few weeks ago, I asked here for info about the novels by Andrew McGahan, Australian writer.
  Finally I've red his novel LAST DRINKS (2000), and it was a good surprise.
  The book is about ordinary corruption in Brisbane, the alliance between political control, civil servants and "entrepreneurs". The background of the novel is a real fact: in 1987-89 a huge political scam was heavily investigated and put on court, involving the highest political personnel of Queensland.
  Here it's described as seen by an insider, passively participating to the system through a small part of it, and the book starts when he discovers that one of his best friends of the past was brutally murdered in a place not far from the small forgotten mountain town where he lives now after the Great Investigation, the official cleansing.
  The whole story is a clever analysis of corruption without the too easy manichaeism exaggeration so often seen in some novels handling the same subject. In LAST DRINKS they are all culprits and accomplices: not only the corrupters but also the ordinary folks, the average population of the State of Queensland, believing in opportunistic official tales about simplicity and glorified idiocy.
  On top of this: a good description of alcoholism as a social plague. Alcohol: The remedy to avoid to look at the real life, here IMO a symbolism of the conscience occultation that ordinary corruption requires to survive by its participants- as *all* the main characters are hardcore alcoholics in the novel.
  The whole story is told by the main character in a novel extremely well constructed and beautifully written. It's dark, melancholic (not nostalgic) and rather pessimistic.
  A first class noir novel, pure melancholy Noir. Even if there are some weaknesses in its very last developments.
  Highly recommended.
  I'm not sure, however, that the following novels published by McGahan are still belonging to "mystery noir".

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