Written by Murray Bail
On a family sheep farm in the interior of Australia, a brother and sister work the land while their reclusive brother, Wesley Antill, spends years toiling away in one of the sheds, writing his philosophy. Having forsaken the family business to travel through European cities in search of a foundation,Wesley returned home to spend his days holed up to write his magnum opus, trying to invent a new philosophy, a “theory of the emotions.” But after his untimely death, his papers are left untouched in his study, to be handled posthumously by his siblings. They call on Erica Hazlehurst, a philosopher, to travel from Sydney to appraise Wesley’s work to see if it is publishable. Accompanying her is her sexy and passionate friend, Sophie, a psychoanalyst who needs a distraction from a string of failed relationships. These two women, each with different views of the world and counter approaches to life, face a situation they have never experienced before, with surprising results. What begins as a spontaneous, brief sojourn will end up changing their lives.
The Pages is a beguiling meditation on friendship and love, on men and women, on landscape and the difficulties of thought itself, by one of Australia’s greatest novelists, the author of the much-loved Eucalyptus.
Category: Fiction - Contemporary Women
“A surfeit of imagination, skill and style...composed of stories within stories, of enigmatic characters and sly questions with many possible answers . . . It might also be said of Murray Bail’s novels [that] there are not enough of them.”—The New York Times Book Review
“Urban versus rural. The active versus the contemplative life. The Old World versus the antipodean New. Numerous such dichotomies are examined in this handsomely written novel by the Australian author Murray Bail…The Pages presents a mature exploration of matters of the heart as well as the mind.”—The Boston Globe
“Subtle, playful, cerebral, and strange. . . [an] offbeat blend of human comedy, maverick prose, and quirky observation . . . There's a marked visionary streak to his work. ”—The Seattle Times
“…Bail crafts a strange and impressionistic philosophical fable. Throughout, he strikes a brilliant thematic balance between theory and experience with sharp prose and dazzling imagery.”—Library Journal
“Bail plunges headlong into an intense examination of the relationships between language, experience, identity, and reality.” —The Times UK
“An intriguing novel of contraries…The tone of Bail’s oblique, demanding, intelligent, sardonic work reminds me of J. M. Coetzee’s cryptic narratives.” —The Guardian
“Murray Bail makes philosophy, the love of wisdom, seem worth cultivating…[A] wonderfully entertaining novel.” —Daily Telegraph
“Brilliantly distilled, and witty.” —Times Literary Supplement
“Quietly fascinating” —The Independent
“This is a staggeringly rich book, full of warmth and sadness and the absolute tang of the real… It’s a wonderful book.” —The Age
Murray Bail was born in Adelaide, Australia in 1941. He is the author of four novels and two collections of short stories. His novel Eucalyptus was awarded the 1999 Commonwealth Writers’ Prize and the Miles Franklin Literary Award.
At dawn—what a word: the beginning of the world all over again—the two women set out from Sydney in a small car, as other people were slowly going about their tasks, or at least beginning to stir, producing a series of overlapping movements and stoppages, awakenings and false dawns, framed by the glass of the car.
They were city women. Comfortably seated and warm they were hoping to experience the unexpected, an event or a person, preferably person, to enter and alter their lives. There is a certain optimism behind all travel. The passenger, who wore a chunky necklace like pebbles made out of beer bottles, had never been over the mountains before. And she was forty-three. Directions had been given in biro, on a page torn out of an exercise book. It would take all day getting there. Over the mountains, into the interior, in the backblocks of western New South Wales, which in the end is towards the sun.
At an earlier time, perspiring travelers found no other way but to hack a path through the jungle or the dry bush. Very common image. Now on the long wide road called Parramatta, the obstacles consisted of nouns, adjectives and flags, and flashing lights in the shape of arrows, the many different interruptions of
color and promises, honestly, the hard work of selling jutting into the road itself, cluttering and distracting the mind. Traffic kept stopping, starting: you’d think by now they could synchronize the lights.