The Chantic Bird by David Ireland

textpublishing's review

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‘One of the most remarkable novels—first, fifth or fifteenth—to appear on the scene for many a long day…Compassionate and pitiless, savage and sad, ironic and naive, horrifying and farcical.’
Sydney Morning Herald

‘Gloriously and savagely comic.’
Adelaide Advertiser

fourtriplezed's review

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This book by David Ireland was certainly a remarkable debut. We are presented with a stream of conscience delivery about, ultimately, what a silly thing it is to live. Told through the eyes of a 16 and three quarter boy, Ireland has stated that the novel “is about freedom. The boy is an analogue of the writer as artist”. The boy seems to me to be an analogue of the themes covered in Irelands next two novel The Unknown Industrial Prisoner and The Flesheaters. The industrial captivity of the working man, violence as a tool of that industrial captivity and the edges of madness and depression that we all could fall into. Ireland is a very challenging author. He makes you, as the reader, uncomfortable. He attacks your comfortable life. He is an observer of those edges of life that most of us steer purposely away from. He has an ability to impart into our mind our fears of those on the periphery with prose that can be both harsh and gentle. We are challenged by violent brutality followed in no time at all by the description of temperate love.

Three Miles Franklin awards but Ireland is sadly not on the radar of the modern reader of Australian literature and I have to ask why.

counterturn's review

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challenging dark tense slow-paced
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? No
  • Loveable characters? No
  • Diverse cast of characters? It's complicated
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


camerontrost's review against another edition

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The Chantic Bird is a remarkable first-person narrative set in a period of dramatic social change in Australia. The antihero is a young outsider struggling to make sense of the world around him and his place in it. Alienation, poverty, and discontent are the driving forces behind his violent tendencies. This book is often compared to A Clockwork Orange, and, as seen by my star rating of 3/5 for the latter title, I was much more impressed by David Ireland's work of fiction. The narrative style (and surprises), the setting, the events, and the conclusion make The Chantic Bird as enjoyable as it is disconcerting, and as darkly humorous as it is thought-provoking.