Lineage (Bloodlines #2) (Paperback)
To open the pages of a book by Peter Bowes is to enter a quintessentially Australian world, but one that is also universal. We all know these people, see them on the streets, meet them, avoid them, want to know more about them. Bowes writes without judging, and by drawing us in to see others' lives from the inside, we, too, are less inclined to judge.
There is also a yearning here, for something else, something more, something lost. In In Among the Spectres, the writer becomes an appalled witness, mourning - not wholly without ambiguity - the overwhelming and irrevocable impact of 'those who would defy creation'. There is personal loss here, too, promises made to a dying father in What's Best: a lifetime's love, respect, disappointment and hope distilled into 200 heartbreaking words. And in Pipe the sudden mutual recognition of grief.
Bowes is also adept at tragicomedy - a rare skill. In Carnage, the effects of a car crash on a local neighbourhood are bleakly hilarious. But we are also invited to watch the driver, Feeney, as he quietly joins some passers-by to witness the devastation he has caused - not only to the neighbourhood, but also, perhaps, to his life, for it, too, is a car crash.
That most Australian of sports - surfing - is explored here too. But as always with Bowes, there is more to this than meets the eye. Bowes is a surfing aficionado, but his take on the subject goes beyond surfing itself. It's not necessary to be a fan, or even to know anything about this sport, to appreciate these glimpsed portraits of human impulse and the mystery of why we do what we do.
There are some great stories in this volume. Bowes is a master storyteller and outstanding examples included here are The Job Applicants, with its laugh-out-loud ending, and a trio of related tales in Part Seven, Settling In, where we meet Scoresby, 'newly arrived in the Middle Kingdom from the lassitude of a month's layoff in the Hong Kong Yacht Club'.
Bowes is a keen observer of life and he takes us with him into hotel lobbies, restaurants, and casinos. He is inquisitive, provocative and sharp-eyed, sharing his experiences with gusto and humour. He wonders at life, and we wonder with him.
Please note: some of these pieces contain strong language.
Lineage is the second in a trilogy of works by Peter Bowes. The first, Bloodlines, was published by Bennison Books in 2013.
About the Author
Sent to boarding school aged seven/taught to box by the nuns/buggered off out of a bathroom window after two years/educated rather nicely at Waverley College/terminated early and without a ticket (a few problems with the brothers - nothing life-threatening)/continued the walk to life at Hawkesbury River and Tallangatta Outward Bound/buried five students and two instructors who drowned in the weir in winter/travelled south with the itinerant fruit pickers/travelled north to Noosa with questionable chaps who had spare seats in their cars/drove past Lennox without looking/met Bob Cooper, Bob McTavish and Russell Hughes, full of themselves even then/1963 grounded in Byron with only Queenslanders as friends/didn't buy any cheap land at Wategos/found work and the meaning of life at Walkers Slaughterhouse/bagged a seat in J Keevers' red Merc. 1964 got on a ship and sailed away forever/landed in the UK in winter/found the Poms a little moody, the girls though were a different matter completely/ challenged a Pom to put me in hospital in a street fight and never saw the bottle/did Europe in the back of a car with two Canadians who didn't talk to me/found that Portugal had a few waves/found Tangiers was full of English strange and quality kief and extremely cheap rooms and the whiff of Burroughs and Kerouac was still strong/got off a ferry at Gibraltar/stayed a year, took certain liberties/just avoided being belted by UK marines on leave from Biafra/found out that many Moroccan men are 'hands-on' friends, sweet as/got on a ship and went to the US forever/bought a wreck in NJ and went to Mexico via Florida along some very strange roads/met a black lady in Phoenix who thought Australians ate Aboriginals/found waves in Mexico/washed up in a Vancouver motel in winter with $54 and two books by Steinbeck/sat in a train for four days from Vancouver to Quebec with a chap who looked like Dylan/flew back to Gibraltar for the dark-haired girl/introduced Bob Dylan as ambient music in a couple of nightclubs/brought the dark-haired girl home to Bondi/worked in enough Sydney pubs to learn how to duck a fight and land a punch/two daughters joined us after a while and they still insist on their supremacy/washed cars/wired up old river mansions/worked in bars, nightclubs, building sites, slaughterhouses, hotels, farms, orchards, car-yards, game boats, nightclubs, river boats, offices.friend of some better side of human nature. Friend of some better side of human nature.