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‘I think what Darren’s really good at, is that he sort of understands other people. Sometimes, even if I don’t say anything, he seems to know what I’m feeling anyway.’
Cassie’s face lit up. ‘Yes,’ she said. ‘That’s what I think too. That’s exactly what I think…’
ROLAND lives with his parents, Graham and Joyce, and his younger sister, Lily, in the golden light of an outer suburb— Glenella. He dreams of escaping, of finding an intoxicating life somewhere else.
He is in love with Cassie Noble, the daughter of his parents’ friends Reg and Colleen. But when Darren Wilson moves into the neighbourhood and attracts the interest of both teens, a conflict emerges that threatens the friendship between the two families.
Following his acclaimed debut, The Vintage and the Gleaning, Jeremy Chambers’ new novel, Suburbia, is a revelation: a coming-of-age drama about the end of innocence set in a hidden world of paling fences and fragrant lawns, amid the flickering light of memory and desire.
‘This is one of the most irresistible novels I’ve read in a long time. The writing is powerful, challenging and utterly authentic. I feel as if I’ve been waiting for years to read this strangely beguiling novel.’
‘A highly accomplished and rewarding work.’
‘There’s a lyricism in the language and a depth to the emotions laid bare here that’s utterly irresistible. Add to that a genuine and honest depiction of Australian working men and what you have is quite a remarkable novel…The Vintage and the Gleaning is an impressive novel, one which many seasoned writers would be proud to call their own. That it comes from a first-time novelist is astounding.’
The gentle title belies the tough beauty of Chambers’ prose. This novel is written with sinewy strength. It creates its characters with small but powerful gestures. They are gloriously understated. The Vintage and the Gleaning speaks quietly to powerful effect. It is a book whose silences are golden. It is both perceptive and compassionate. It understands the hard stuff and embraces hard people.
‘The novel’s lengthy passages of dialogue instill the book with a sharp playfulness; Chambers could have a future not only as a novelist but also as a dramatist.’
‘The Vintage and the Gleaning impresses with a visceral appreciation for the routines of work…the true voice of Chambers’ resonantly Faulknerian saga comes through the minutely detailed, deeply authentic evocation of work life among the vines, in the sharing shed and in a plethora of country pubs.’
‘A beautiful, harrowing novel about lives wasted and awry.’
‘Beautifully written and sketching the Australian landscape and weather conditions with authenticity and insight, there’s a mood of nihilism as in Albert Camus’ The Outsider, stirred with the descriptive prose of Tim Winton in Dirt Music…a rewarding read.’
‘Without a doubt the most distinguished first novel by an Australian writer I have read for a long time…by turns harsh and lyrical, satiric and compassionate, and ultimately tragic.’
‘A beautiful, harrowing novel.’
‘One of the best evocations I’ve read of both the hard beauty of Australia’s warm wine landscapes and the hard urgency of Australian male drinking culture.’
‘A small gem of a book. The content is secondary to the style which is simple, pared down and precise. However this does give the novel a slight feeling of airlessness as you tiptoe through pages of beautiful prose, nodding in admiration at lovingly rendered descriptions.’
‘Chambers’ understated account of a retired sheep shearer in a small Australian town deserves a wide readership…The rhythms of this life, the work, the terse banter among the men, and the relentless desperation…are economically conveyed…and the descriptions of ghost gums, the malignancy of circling crows and the omnipresent bleached, exhausted landscape are superb.’
‘This terrific Australian first novel is set in a working world. Smithy is an old man on his last legs, labouring in a vineyard. He notices the beauty of the land around him. He notices and observes the people around him and is haunted by the sudden clarity of his past. He steps in to help Charlotte, a desperate young woman, and she gives a little purpose to his life. Chambers writes very powerfully about the sadness of memory.’
‘Chambers’s writing feels fresh and his descriptive language renders Glenella in sombre beauty.’
‘The author’s achievement is to paint the neon-hued, big-haired, acid-washed landscape of the 80s in Australia with Heidelberg School exquisiteness, and in doing so he brings an oddly formal, grave, elegiac air to a moment and a world that seems shallow and silly in retrospect…the effect can be miraculous, a transfiguration of the commonplace.’
‘Suburbia, Chambers’s second novel after the much-praised The Vintage and the Gleaning, adds another voice to a welcome wave of Australian fiction that re-evaluates family life at the end of the 20th century, a time just close enough to make readers feel rather uncomfortable without quite causing us to look away.’