Monday, July 15, 2013

In Arcadia


by JD Shaw
Published 2013

This is a comic novel that depicts a near future Melbourne collapsing at a social level. The woes seem to be economic and agricultural in nature but the precise cause isn't exactly clear. The "climate" does get a few mentions however so it fits quite neatly alongside some of the other books I've been reading lately.

The hero and narrator is a typical Melbourne dad (Tom) living with his family in a place that feels very much like Brunswick. Unfortunately the streets of the inner north are becoming overrun with unemployed vagabonds (even more than usual it would seem). Tom and his family decide to flee to the farthest edge of suburbia - to a walled community called Arcadia. Of course there turns out to be some pretty unpleasant things going on in the community and Tom is soon deeply entangled in most of it.

The thing I thought most important about this book was the portrayal of characters desperately trying to hold on to a vanishing suburban ideal. In the quest for luxury these characters are very quick to dispose of their notions of morality. The other thing I liked a lot were the farcical scenes of misadventure and destruction. There is some wildly unfashionable comic writing going here and I was laughing out loud in quite a few places.

My only criticism is that I wanted a lot more detail about what was going on in the rest of the city. The story ends with a sense of a new journey beginning so perhaps (hopefully) the author will keep writing and produce a sequel one day.

**** four stars!

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