I chose this randomly for a reading challenge and, having finished about ten minutes ago, am feeling a little underwhelmed by the experience.
Starting with ‘Whitlam and the Whitlam Centre’, I was intrigued by the ease of writing and tight use of the everyday in painting pictures that struck a relatable chord. The stories weaved by Carman focus on a type of grey, accidental friendship that sticks in the mind even though there is no potential love lost. He presents common racist attitudes that are alarming in their accuracy, and his references to authors, titles, events and literary opinions will, no doubt, please and entertain those within or surrounding the writing industry. Or perhaps just those who love to read the classics.
However, by the penultimate ‘Rare Birds’, I was confused as to whether I was reading short fiction or an autobiography separated into small, appetiser-size chunks. Recurrent characters linked the stories, which was all well and good, but the storyteller in each is either clearly or accidentally Carman himself; I found it difficult to engage with the narrator who, several times, came across as beige in relation to the potential narrative.
‘An Elegant Young Man’ is a pleasant read but I am not sure I find it purchase-worthy.