The Pages by Murray Bail

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The Pages by Murray Bail
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Genre: General Fiction
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Ekaterina Rodyunina
Reviewed by Ekaterina Rodyunina
Summary: Two closer-to-40-clock-is-ticking-afraid-to-die-alone-and-be-eaten-by-own-pet city girls (Erica the philosopher and Sophie the psychologist as best supporting character) start off into the Australian wilderness together. A certain deceased stranger claimed to have written philosophy, and Erica is to visit his brother and sister at their family home and evaluate whether the writing has indeed been philosophy and whether it was any good at all. Give it a try, but most certainly not everyone's cup of tea. Definitely judge for yourself if you are a philosopher!
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 224 Date: August 2008
Publisher: Harvill Secker
ISBN: 978-1846552168

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Two closer-to-40-clock-is-ticking-afraid-to-die-alone-and-be-eaten-by-own-pet city girls (Erica the philosopher and Sophie the psychologist as best supporting character) start off into the Australian wilderness together. A certain deceased stranger claimed to have written philosophy, and Erica is to visit his brother and sister at their family home and evaluate whether the writing has indeed been philosophy and whether it was any good at all.

The entire book is split into two narratives - there is one about Erica's experience in the country (sheep! rain!) and the other is the philosopher's life story (learn philosophy. think. travel).

I found this book profoundly disappointing, especially because the first 50 pages were really deep and promising. Murray Bail is incredible in creating short meaningful descriptions of the characters' state of mind, chain of thoughts, perceptions. It was pure pleasure to read the first passages about why psychoanalysis has rooted into young Australian nation, while philosophy hasn't - refreshing and well-written.

However later it all goes downhill. The women arrive, meet family, walk, talk, think, walk, talk, eat, think, talk. Doors close, trucks drive, but by the middle it is all just stagnation. There are a few plot turns, of course, but if I gave them away now, there would be no point in reading the book whatsoever.

The hard truth is, this is one of those books that attempts to cover a lot of topics and ends up barely covering one or two. It has some really great ideas but lacks definition. The book parts add up (most of the time), but it does not read true or believable.

Give it a try, but most certainly not everyone's cup of tea. Definitely judge for yourself if you are a philosopher!

Thanks a lot to Harvill Secker for sending this book to The Bookbag nevertheless!

If the premise of this book appeals to you then we think that you might also enjoy Breath by Tim Winton or The Northern Clemency by Philip Hensher.

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