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Forever Young The latest novel by acclaimed novelist Steven Carroll winner of the Prime Minister’s Award and the Miles Franklin Award‘And is nostalgia not so much a longing for a place or a time as a longing for youth itself’Forever Young is set against the tumultuous period of change and uncertainty that was Australia in 1977 Whitlam is about to lose the federal election and things will never be the same again the times they are a'changing Radicals have become conservatives idealism is giving way to realism relationships are falling apart and Michael is finally coming to accept that he will never be a rock and roll musicianA subtle and graceful exploration of the passage of time and our yearning for the seeming simplicities of the past Forever Young is a powerfully moving work clear beautiful affecting by one of our greatest authors

10 thoughts on “Forever Young

  1. says:

    I loved this novel maybe I am still be a Melburnian at heart so can readily relate to the characters and settings of Carroll's Glenroy novels of which this is the 5th I am also approximately the same age as one of the main characters of the series Michael so again I can identify with the issues and experiences of the times of which Carroll writes I haven't enjoyed as much the novels Carroll has written based on T S Eliot's Four uartets although I recognise the seriousness and ambition of their intent Perhaps I am just a sucker for nostalgia??Forever Young is set in 1977 in the lead up to the election about to be lost by the Australian Labor Party after it has been ousted from power in 1975 There are many references to the 'Whitlam years' which resonate with Australian readers as they relate to a watershed period in Australian political and social life This is certainly not a page turner rather it is a meditation on an era and on the changing life directions of each of its characters Michael is leaving the band he has been performing in for some years and moving to Europe to try his hand at writing He is also leaving his girlfriend Mandy Michael's mother Rita with whom we are very familiar from previous Glenroy novels has spontaneously left her job and is about to travel overseas for the first time Peter is a university contemporary of Michael's and now a conservative politician who gets involved in some very murky Chinese whispers Art is an artist who has left Australia many years before and is living in Italy All these characters have connections with each other some in surprising and unpredictable waysThe tone of this novel is ruminative and elegiac its style simple without being simplistic While completely accessible its ideas are able to send the reader into extended reflections on relationships the passing of time changing cities and cultures and Australian identity It is rather strange to have a novel about growing older called 'Forever Young' This was part of the puzzle and attraction of the book for me I think Carroll understands how we take the past with us into the new paths we tread that parts of ourselves remain youthful even as we age and that through art and literature the past is forever young forever new

  2. says:

    I have read some really good books so far this year but this is my favourite I will be disappointed almost if I read one that betters it Unlike many authors who write to impress us their vast and superior knowledge of language patronizing? Carroll writes with a subtle elegant and unaffected simplicity without being simple This series has always resonated strongly with me because I was born about the same time as Michael and lived in a new suburb of dirt roads and stick houses Rita could have been my mother although Vic thank God was not my father however I did know a VicI found the ending very satisfying and I know there is a sixth book planned but I think this would be a good place for Steven Carroll to leave his characters to the care of his readers I don't think I want the rest of their lives laid out

  3. says:

    Forever Young by Steven Carroll won the Miles Franklin the Commonwealth Writers Prize and jointly the Prime Minister's Literary Award Clearly it has been recognised for its literary merit but my feelings about it are torn while I found some aspects of the characters compelling and the way the plot was randomly connected to be rather clever I had trouble engaging fully with the narrative and found myself wandering off at times Perhaps part of the trouble is that this is apparently book number 5 in a series of 6; I have not read Carroll before and so was not familiar with his previous development of these same characters I came to this book without any prior knowledge of Rita and Vic their family and their story The book is set over a couple of months in 1977 a tumultuous period in Australian politics with Whitlam about to lose the federal election Through the various sections we are given perspectives from different characters and we are returned to each of them three or four times over the course of the novel First is Michael a 30 something who has accepted that his dream of becoming a rock and roll musician is not going to eventuate We are treated to a rambling stream of consciousness type of interior monologue from Michael about his life his loves his passions and his day to day activities His every thought is documented and analysed Next we meet Michael's friend Peter a political mover and shaker who provides the most interesting plot line in the book as he reveals information which may or may not be true in the form of a leak which then takes on a life of its own with tragic conseuences for another friend and reverberations into his personal life for the remainder of the novel We meet Mandy Michael's recent ex lover and Rita Michael's mother who is probably the most interesting character as she climbs aboard the 'tram of one's fancy' and ditches her sedate life as a high end retail shop assistant to become a travel and tour guide I only realised after I finished the novel that Rita and her husband Vic were the subject of the previous novels in the series a fact that had I known earlier might have made a difference in my reading of this one We also meet Art an expat Australian living in Italy creating art and musing over where his life has ended up And so we go between the perspectives of these characters and share the journeys of their interior lives and are privy to their existential thoughts What I most enjoyed about the book was the apparently random and casual links that were made every so often between these characters one character might in the middle of a life crisis happen to notice someone else on the beach and later we realise that the person on the beach is another major character that their paths have crossed if ever so slightly This is repeated to great effect with a couple of the major plot points so that one person's actions have a ripple effect into the lives of others or result in circumstances that could not have been foreseen The book is written in a certain style that some will find intensely intriguing and thought provoking and others will just find irritating I swung between the two uite often during my reading of the book One theme that I did find fascinating was as represented in the title of the book Forever Young the idea of youth and the inexorable march into old age I'm guessing this theme would have even meaning if I had read the other books in the series One uote that particularly struck me 'Let our children knowthat which is not spoken Let them know let them know that we tried In our way That we grew older for them that they might not grow old That we lived the wrong life for them that they might live the right one That we suffered for them even before they were born that they might not And if we snapped and shouted and slapped their love away or brought damage down upon them it was not for want of trying not to For we tried in our way We tried And if they ever should ask let them know' And later 'That we were damaged before we came to them and if we failed to keep our damage to ourselves it wasn't for lack of trying' This theme resonated with me as did the book's general ideas of youth being wasted on the young wisdom being acuired with age children becoming independent and cutting family ties and older people searching for what they failed to find or to accomplish during their youth This is a novel of big ideas and broad enigmatic philosophical debate For me I found it less like an engaging story and like a theoretical treatise on politics culture and society

  4. says:

    I have just abandoned this book half read in an airport which I think gives you the general idea although sometimes I do that because I hope someone special will pick up a truly great novel at a desperate moment in their life and it will stop them from hijacking a planenot the case with this one Life is too short and bags are too heavy to carry this all the way to Fiji Which is a shame because I loved a few of Carroll's others This one was just like I want to say something profound and poignant but I can't uite decide what it is so I'm going to say the same sentences a few times in slightly different ways over and over again And I did not like the alliterative combination of Michael and Mandy I hope I'm not just being harsh about this because of the fact that my plane has been delayed by four hours and I'm now going to arrive in Suva for my work trip at 4 in the morning

  5. says:

    Slow and repetitive in it's style of writing I uite enjoyed the story and characters There is a lot of rumination which I personally uite like The descriptions of Melbourne and the Whitlam era were interesting I liked the way different characters were tied together I am not compelled however to read the other books in this series at this time anyway In any case I think Rita is my favourite character

  6. says:

    I’m glad it’s over Not my cup of tea The maximum excitement for Rita was two tram rides Excessively wordy without going anywhere I could not see the point of the Whitlam connections to this book I certainly won’t be signing up for any others in the series

  7. says:

    I really could not get into this rambling story As a Melbournian I tried my hardest but it just didn't sing Abandoned 50 pages in

  8. says:

    Boring and repetitive unworthy of a miles franklin award This took me so long to finish because I kept stopping all the time and then skim read the last 30 pages just to get it finished

  9. says:

    While the concept and era seem really interesting this book was full of too many ideas and not enough narrative to keep me going

  10. says:

    This man writes very well indeed although it is not my favorite genre

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