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Er fantasist condemned to live in the most brutal penal colony in the British Empire and there ordered to paint a book of fish Once upon a time miraculous things happen. This book lies well beyond this reviewer s abilities

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Gould's Book of Fish

Once upon a time that was called 1828 before all the living things on the land and the fishes in the sea were destroyed there was a man named William Buelow Gould a con. If like Gould we gaze into life s ocean and paint what we sea will the fish be like us the fish be like meThe answer is yesWhen like Gould we search for the hero to our history the savior of our story and find that files were god s joke on memory and that beauty is life s revolt against life is it ok like Percy Shelly to pause and reflect that we were injured and that means memoryThe answer is yesWhen we realize that definitions belong to the definer not the defined when we come to the comforting conclusion that books are the tongue of divine wisdom and that by definer s definition means they are nothing than follies destined forever to be misunderstood may we at least come to the place like Gould where we recognize that the flashpoint of event to memory is anything but truthNow we are asking the right uestion

review Gould's Book of Fish

Vict in Van Dieman's Land who fell in love with a black woman and discovered too late that to love is not safe Silly Billy Gould invader of Australia liar murderer forg. Fish Well why not Maybe we have lost the ability that sixth sense that allows us to see the miracles and have visions and understand that we are something other larger than we have been told Maybe evolution has been going on in reverse longer than I suspect and we are already sad dumb fishHard to argue with that although any resemblance I may share with the pot bellied seahorse is purely coincidentalThis is a beautiful book for all its scabrous people and doings It is as any good blurbist will tell you wonderfully imagined A modern day con man finds a book of watercolour painted fish with accompanying text from a convict in early 19th century Australia Is it real Soon we are swimming in the story of that book of cruel confinement drugged visions of grandeur race sex every emotion and every type of man a fine kettle of fish While there is allegory to satisfy the biggest Thomas Mann fan there is also writing that provokes as it amuses In one sentence he eviscerates an entire legal system In that courtroom there was a lot of dark wood trying to take itself seriously Seriously If you ve spent any time in the majesty of the law you will appreciate that that single sentence defines it even as it destroys it Yet our protagonist finding himself in the dock is able to reflect Because you see I was born not an evil man but simply the bastard issue of a fair day s passion a folly a three thimble trick like my present name beneath whichever one you lift there is nothingThat s some writing chops thereBut he s not done My real crime was seeing the world for what it is painting it as a fishThe kettle is not simply an island penal colony but the European system that would send men there a Europe exploding into a thousand atonal notes See Thomas Mann reference above At best a picture a book are only open doors inviting you into an empty house once inside you just have to make the rest up as well as you canThis book is subtitled A Novel in Twelve Fish and there are indeed twelve chapters each with a wonderful painting of a fish twelve different types of fish There are a dozen or so colleagues on the floor where I work It was fun and relatively easy to assign a matching fish to each one Oh Serpent Eel you know who you are The Weedy Seadragon the Kelpy the Stargazer the Striped Cowfish the Crested Weedfish the Silver Dory the Freshwater Crayfish the Porcupine Fish the Leatherjacket the Sawtooth Shark and you know like I said the Pot Bellied Seahorse I like my fellow fish Richard Flanagan writes But he also says I simply had spent too much time in their company staring at them committing the near criminal folly of thinking there was something individually human about them when the truth is that there is something irretrievable fishy about us allI have to read all Richard Flanagan s other books now


10 thoughts on “Gould's Book of Fish

  1. says:

    There are times when as a book reviewer it is tempting to simply put the adjectives on hold; when mere descriptors seem paltry next to the indescribable beauty of the book itself Richard Flanagan's Gould's Book of

  2. says:

    If like Gould we gaze into life’s ocean and paint what we sea will the fish be like us the fish be like me?The answer is yesWhen like Gould we search for the hero to our history the savior of our story and find that files were god’s joke on memory and that beauty is life’s revolt against life is it ok like Percy She

  3. says:

    A book this big offers an entire sea of woe and wonder as well as auatic metaphors It’s about life love and death as well as the importance of truth and how slippery like a fish it can be It’s a fascinating history of Sarah Island home of

  4. says:

    Gould's Book of Fish is a modern postmodern parahistorical novel I can’t define what it does exactly mean but it sounds greatI had begun with the comforting conclusion that books are the tongue of divine wisdom and had en

  5. says:

    Fish? Well why not? Maybe we have lost the ability that sixth sense that allows us to see the miracles and have visions and understand that we are something other larger than we have been told Maybe evolution has been going on in reverse longer than I suspect and we are already sad dumb fishHard to argue with that although any re

  6. says:

    This novel of life in a penal colony on Sarah Island off Tasmania in the 1820's could be characterized as a scatological tragicomedy as historical fantasy and as a satire of the human race along the lines of Swift or Volta

  7. says:

    This is a beautifully written book but it is not for me I was fascinated with William Buelow Gould and I also love anything to do with fish I fish flyfishing paint and love fish So why didn't this book appeal to me? Well I really don't knowAnd as for the ending well it was sheer fantasyShame an excellent author b

  8. says:

    This book lies well beyond this reviewer's abilities

  9. says:

    This is such a truly different bookon life on art on fish on the development of Van Diemen's Land and neighboring islands It's fact and fiction and myth Sometimes difficult to read but ultimately very worthwhile Is it hallucination? i

  10. says:

    An afterthought I ran into this rave review here the other dayhttpwwwgoodreadscomreviewshowand it made me think whew an intelligent human being not only liked this pile of self congratulatory rat's feces but loved it and wanted to marry it so this made me thinkMAYBE I WAS A LITTLE HASTYDamn I hate it when I'm not 100% right about ev

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