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Introduction by Kate De Goldi
There was an old man who lived on the edge of the world and he had a horse called Sydney Bridge Upside Down. He was a scar-faced old man and his horse was a slow-moving bag of bones, and I start with this man and his horse because they were there for all the terrible happenings up the coast that summer, always somewhere around.
The terrible happenings take place at the abandoned meatworks in Calliope Bay, a forbidden and dangerous place, where the cries of animals being slaughtered can be heard in the wind. It’s a place where Harry Baird finds himself drawn, a place where accidents happen. A place where people die.
Sydney Bridge Upside Down is the great unread New Zealand novel—a gothic thriller, a coming-of-age story and a sinister family tragedy.
‘What begins as the story of an ordinary country boy quickly turns strange and unpredictable indeed…Funny, inventively written, and more than slightly odd, Sydney Bridge Upside Down makes a long-awaited and welcome return.’
‘It holds in heartbreaking tension that point between innocence and experience, sanity and disarray that we recognize in works as disparate as Iain Banks’s The Wasp Factory and Hal Porter’s The Watcher on the Cast-Iron Balcony, in which the private catechisms of childhood and adolescence are translated into an adult tongue.’
‘How did we fail to give this gripping, funny, desperately sad, great New Zealand novel, set “on the edge of the world”, its due when it was first published in 1968?…Not until last year when l was urged to read it again did l fully understand what a masterpiece Ballantyne had pulled off.’
‘Sydney Bridge Upside Down is a gothic masterpiece that subverts many of the norms of realist fiction in a way that justifies its reputation as not only one of the most important local novels of the 1960s, but one whose terms seem clearer with the benefit of hindsight and thus resonate even more insistently today.’ Read review in full.