I don't know if my story is grand enough to be a tragedy, although a lot of shitty stuff did happen. It is certainly a love story but that did not begin until midway through the shitty stuff, by which time I had not only lost my 8-year-old son, but also my house and studio in Sydney where I had once been as famous as a painter could expect in his own backyard. So begins Peter Carey's highly charged, recklessly funny new novel.
Narrated by artist Butcher Bones and his 'damaged 220 lb brother' Hugh, it recounts their adventures and troubles after Butcher's plummeting prices and spiralling drink problem force them to retreat from Sydney to northern New South Wales. Here the formerly famous artist is reduced to acting as caretaker for his patron and nurse to his idiot-savant brother. Then mysterious American beauty Marlene turns up one stormy night, clad in a pair of Manolo Blahniks. Claiming that the brothers' neighbour owns an original Jacques Liebovitz, she sets in motion a chain of events that could be the making or ruin of them all.
A truly brilliant novel - an act of fantastic writing bravura from Peter Carey, in which he once again displays his extraordinary flair.