Monday, June 27, 2011

Cedar Flat - book review

Cedar Flat (ISBN: 978-1-61204-092-9)
Alex Jones
Available in all fine book stores.

The third novel offering from Alex Jones strays from the semi-urban and quasi-autobiographical setting of his two earlier works (Helen Garner and the Meaning of Everything (2007) and Morris In Iceland (2009)) to the titular 'Cedar Flat'. On the outskirts of a barely-named Northern NSW coast town, Cedar Flat is a failed eco-resort with a reputation for short tenancies. Seeking a change of pace, retired geek Murray and his adolescent daughter Pim move in.

The story is expertly yet effortlessly crafted, advancing the tightly drawn plot only infinitesimally removed from the reader's own familiarity, yet somehow creating mystery and interest in an otherwise domestic setting. In the words of one of the characters, the detail is there for those that are capable of seeing it.

The multilayered text rewards a second read, and a third. Thematic elements tie the whole together as the central idea is folded, compacted, and crystallised like a insect caught in a spider's web.

Ultimately the story is about coming of age. A hand is offered up to the next level and is ultimately embraced, through a series of life experiences and reflection.

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