The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith (1994) and The Big Bazoohley (1995)
in Peter Carey
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The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith is undoubtedly the strangest of Peter Carey's novels. It marks a return to the overt alternative world-building found in the early stories with their fantastic and fable-like scenarios, and implicit in works like Oscar and Lucinda. On the final page of The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith, Tristan reveals, like the narrator's view of Lucinda at the end of Oscar and Lucinda, that 'although I did not know it, my unusual life was really just beginning'. As if to echo that, Carey has published yet another innovation in his fictional practice, this time into children's literature. The Big Bazoohley takes the idea of adventurous risk-taking as its main idea. The Big Bazoohley of the title refers to the notion of life's big gamble, the main chance, whose existence nine-year-old Sam has absorbed from his gambler father and which Sam succeeds in pulling off.


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