The Boys Who Stole the Funeral: A Novel Sequence

Les A. Murray, Author
Les A. Murray, Author Farrar Straus Giroux $20 (71p) ISBN 978-0-374-11603-3
Reviewed on: 02/03/1992
Release date: 02/01/1992
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In Australian poet Murray's rough-and-tumble verse novel, two unemployed youths steal the mortal remains of an old soldier friend from a funeral parlor at midnight and bury him in his rural homeland, where he had asked to be lain to rest. This impetuous act sets off a series of personal clashes, including a confrontation between one of the duo and his father's lover, and the murder of his fellow bodysnatcher by a policeman. In the closing scene, aboriginal healers offer the surviving youth spiritual guidance as he soars aloft, surveys the continent's bloody history and binds his soul's wounds. Murray's mostly unrhymed 140-sonnet sequence combines the craggy beauty of Thomas Hardy with the ironic ambivalence of Philip Larkin. American readers will savor the exotic Aussie twang and the continually surprising language even without grasping all of the cultural allusions. (Oct.)
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