Puneet Varma

An Item from the Late News

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Country  Australia
Publication date  1982
Originally published  1982
Page count  200
ISBN  0702217026
3.8/5 Goodreads

Language  English
Pages  200
Author  Thea Astley
Genre  Fiction
Preceded by  A Kindness Cup
An Item from the Late News t3gstaticcomimagesqtbnANd9GcTFwuYcdAA4hRmqr
Publisher  University of Queensland Press, Australia
Media type  Print (Hardback and Paperback)
Similar  Thea Astley books, Fiction books

An Item from the Late News (1982) is a novel by Australian author Thea Astley.


Plot summary

The narrator here is arch, sarcastic, oblique Gabby, a painter who, in reaction against her boring upper-middle family, has been through marriage, affairs, bohemianism, and a breakdown..Now, back in her home-town of Allbut, a former mining center that's become a near-ghost town ""in our continental funkerama,"" Gabby is oddly entranced by a newcomer named Wafer--an overage hippie whose only goal is to find ""the perfect bomb shelter."" (His father was a WW II bomb fatality; he's obsessed with Hiroshima.) But Wafer's quiet quest on the town's outskirts will be doomed--by the town's greed and hypocrisy and violence, by Gabby's own self-involved apathy: Wafer is terrorized by a local macho-thug; his fatherly affection for a teenage girl (the thug's rape victim) is used against him. And when Wafer happens to find a precious stone on one of his wanderings, the town will stop at nothing to learn the location of this possible new gem-lode. . . with a predictably fatal outcome.


  • Kirkus Reviews: "As in her previous work, Astley is romanticizing the misfit/outcast here--especially when she drops allusions along the way that suggest Wafer/Christ parallels. And Gabby's narration, though dotted with sparks of rough poetry and sardonic comedy, is too often self-consciously slangy or artsy. Still, adventurous readers may want to tackle this dense socio-philosophical fable--for its undeniable intensity, for the moments when Astley's lashing prose is controlled enough to produce grimly atmospheric or bitterly humorous effects."
  • Marian Eldridge in The Canberra Times: "All in all, though, 'An Item From the Late News' works only too well. It is not a pretty story, not an optimistic one, but in today's world horribly pertinent, and always readable."
  • References

    An Item from the Late News Wikipedia

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