Gould's Book of Fish: A Novel in Twelve Fish

Front Cover
Grove Press, 2001 - Fiction - 404 pages
8 Reviews
The most remarkable novel yet from the internationally acclaimed author of Death of a River Guide and The Sound of One Hand Clapping, Gould's Book of Fish is a marvelous historical epic of nineteenth-century Australia, a world of convicts and colonists, thieves and catamites, whose bloody history is recorded in a very unusual taxonomy of fish. It is the kind of book that comes along once in a very great while -- a book of breathtaking writing and intellectual inquiry that stands out as one of the best novels of recent years. William Buelow Gould was a forger and thief sentenced to life imprisonment in a penal colony in Van Diemen's Land -- now Tasmania. After six months he escaped and boarded a whaler for the Americas, but before long his adventures landed him back in prison. The prison doctor Lempriere utilized Gould's painting talents to create an illustrated taxonomy of the country's exotic sea creatures, which Lempriere madly believed would ensure his place in history and the Royal Society. Gould's book was then lost and re-created, destroyed and hidden, and finally resurfaced in the present day, littered with Gould's scrawls recording his unutterably strange life -- part freewheeling picaresque, part Gothic horror -- and that of his country, a penal colony, settlement, and magical space populated by generals, visionaries, and madmen. This is an exquisitely produced book: each chapter is printed in a different colored ink to re-create its narrator's writing conditions, and each chapter opening will include a reproduction of the original full-color artwork by William Gould. Reminiscent of the richness and historical audacity of Jeanette Winterson's The Passion, Jim Crace'sQuarantine, and Thomas Pynchon's Mason and Dixon, Gould's Book of Fish is a tour de force that interrogates the reliability of history and science, and the substance of artistic creation. "An exuberant, splendidly written, hugely ambitious work..." -- Brian Matthews, Australian Book Review
  

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Review: Gould's Book of Fish: A Novel in Twelve Fish

User Review  - Patrick Gibson - Goodreads

If you like joyless and bleak writing, that reads like a transcript of a very bad dream, this book is for you. If you would enjoy inhabiting a world where everything is covered with slime, mould and ... Read full review

Review: Gould's Book of Fish: A Novel in Twelve Fish

User Review  - Natty - Goodreads

I like books with epic, transcendent endings, and this one's a doozy. Forget about the brain-teaser historicity and focus on the metaphysics, the language, and the fish. God damn, the fish. There are ... Read full review

All 2 reviews »

Selected pages

Contents

Section 1
1
Section 2
17
Section 3
35
Section 4
41
Section 5
59
Section 6
60
Section 7
65
Section 8
79
Section 16
233
Section 17
239
Section 18
265
Section 19
300
Section 20
309
Section 21
312
Section 22
323
Section 23
331

Section 9
85
Section 10
97
Section 11
141
Section 12
177
Section 13
189
Section 14
207
Section 15
227
Section 24
346
Section 25
357
Section 26
391
Section 27
404
Section 28
411
Copyright

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About the author (2001)

RICHARD FLANAGAN was born in Longford, Tasmania, in 1961. His novels--Death of a River Guide, The Sound of One Hand Clapping and Gould's Book of Fish: A Novel in Twelve Fish (winner of the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Overall Best Book)--have been published in 26 countries. He also directed the feature film of The Sound of One Hand Clapping and most recently collaborated with director Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge) on the screenplay of Luhrmann's forthcoming epic, Australia.

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