The Biplane Houses

Les Murray, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $23 (96p) ISBN 978-0-374-11548-7

The latest from Australia's most eminent living poet may be his best since 1999's Fredy Neptune . Perennially rumored for the Nobel shortlist, Murray pursues in off-rhymed stanzas and confident verse-paragraphs his signature mix of subjects: rural Australia and the dignity of rural labor; his own Scottish-Australian farming heritage and Catholic faith; the bounty and diversity of nature; the hypocrisy, cruelty and self-destructive overconfidence of cosmopolitan, secular civilization. Murray's vivid world includes unparalleled descriptions of flora and fauna—“dolphins, like 3D surfboards/ born in the ocean”—and quips about social class, housing, transport, belief and doubt, with some insights no one else could have: “Whatever the great religions offer/ it is afterlife their people want.” His lines, as always, are mouthfuls, sometimes awkward, sometimes winning in their sheer force. Though he can be unfair to his political targets—satirizing “gentrifical force” (i.e., gentrification, bourgeois tastes, hipness) as if it were a horseman of the apocalypse—the emotion is genuine and carries with it not only a defense of “working people's farms,” of “beautiful innocents” and unpretentious families, but a very modern understanding of the ways in which our modern lifestyles have put our planet at risk. (June)

Reviewed on: 05/21/2007
Release date: 00/00/0000
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 99 pages - 978-0-374-53128-7
Ebook - 978-1-4668-9479-2
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