A stimulating and brilliantly imaginative collection of mostly dystopian tales, often with strange premises and or gnarly plot twists In addition to dystopian overtones, various tales address body image, pro or anti Americanism, capitalism versus communism or at least their byproducts , solitude, mental health, suicide, murder, guilt, revolutionary ideals, addiction, pleasure, fame, and muchCarey s style seems to involve using characters as thought experiments, and the results are frequ A stimulating and brilliantly imaginative collection of mostly dystopian tales, often with strange premises and or gnarly plot twists In addition to dystopian overtones, various tales address body image, pro or anti Americanism, capitalism versus communism or at least their byproducts , solitude, mental health, suicide, murder, guilt, revolutionary ideals, addiction, pleasure, fame, and muchCarey s style seems to involve using characters as thought experiments, and the results are frequently enlightening, challenging, darkly comedic, or disturbing 4.5 Stars Below are some blurbs about most of the stories in the book, as I found most of them enjoyable If you want to go in totally surprised, don t read them 1 The Fat Man in History Finch is fat and living with other fat men in a co housing unit, in an anti American, post revolutionary, Marxist world, where obesity is counter revolutionary Finch survives in part by stealing, and in part through the procurements of the house s thin hating leader, Fantoni a The twist view spoiler Nancy, a young, attractive woman known as Florence Nightingale , collects rent from the men for the party and flirts with Finch and most of the others She is also a Marxist scientist conducting a live experiment with the household, having someone rise up to become Fantoni , then having them overthrown by another man through guile influence sex lust etc to investigate revolutionary struggles and cycles Messed up hide spoiler 2 Peeling A disturbing tale of removing onion layers to reveal story, plot, clothing, skin, sex, fantasy view spoiler The narrator is bizarre and perhaps unreliable, perhaps completely insane Multiple plot twists hide spoiler 3 Do You Love Me People and places no longer loved start disappearing in this off hand chilling tale reflective of modern society It reads like an episode of Black Mirror , although the impact of technology on the reality isimagined than central view spoiler Even the great Cartographers, who seem to be in charge of mapping and remembering places in the world, start to disappear as people no longer love them The narrator s own father disappears at the end too bitter, angry, and stubborn to be loved His wife quickly asks the main char do you love me hide spoiler 4 The Chance Aliens take over a world ours and institute a genetic lottery that allows for a new body sex age, while keeping most memories intact The aliens use it to make tons of space money , looking at the wide inter galactic economic benefits, while humans see it as a way out of a crappy life or body, or a way to start over Some humans, on the other hand, rebel against the incredible focus on youth and beauty the lottery enhances In this setting, a man who has taken chances many times, currently in the body of an upper middle age street fighter, meets a young, beautiful woman and they fall deeply in love.This is a touching love story, a messed up sci fi exploration, and a damning look at our obsession with youth and beauty, and by extension, social media It s too bad it doesn t delve deeper into the gender side of things, however If the story had been written this decade, I m sure it would.Quotes bits Page 57It the lottery proved the last straw The total embrace of a cancerous philosophy of change The populace became like mercury in each other s minds and arms Institutions that had proved the very basis of our society the family, the neighbourhood, marriage cracked and split apart in the face of a new shrill current of desperate selfishness The city itself stood like an external endorsement to this internal collapse and recalled the most exotic places Calcutta, for instance where the rich had once journeyed to experience the thrilling stink of poverty, the smell of danger, and the just contained threat of violence born of envyPages 70 72 The upper class Hups wealthy elite paying to become hideously ugly and fomenting revolution against the aliens and beautyPage 74I wish you d just shut up, I hissed, although she had said nothing And don t patronize me with your stupid smart talk I was shaking with rage She looked me straight in the eye before she punched me I laid one straight back That s why I love you, damn you Why she screamed, holding her hand over her face For God s sake, why Because we ll both have black eyes She started laughing just as I began to cry5 The Puzzling Nature of Blue The story of Vincent, former board member of the Australasian branch of Farrow , a multinational corporation and drug giant The opening is fantastic, describing why a woman took in the poor, sad, alcoholic shell of Vincent The ending, meh.6 Exotic Pleasures is about a struggling couple in an economically depressed future who discover an alien exotic bird that gives people who stroke it incredible, addictive pleasure.Pages 124 125 Things get reeeeal Page 129 Intense 7 The Last Days of a Famous Mime Bloody Odd Short.8 A Windmill in the West a lone soldier in the desert slowly loses his mind in this look at loneliness, the mental effects of isolation, and the absurdity of borders and military mindsets.9 American Dreams Another odd and imaginative tale A reclusive man and his wife, inhabitants of a rural town, build a 10 foot, broken glass and barbed wire topped wall around their hill top property The contents of this wall become a tourist hot spot, and bloated tourists over run the town and its way of life making for a disturbing legacy view spoiler Inside the wall is a miniature replica of the entire town, complete with the townsfolk in the midst of actions both mundane and shocking hide spoiler 10 War Crimes this book capping tale fully embraces an Australian style dystopia similar to Mad Max , albeit with a veil of civility still intact Two odd, druggie, gun toting consultants, entirely unique in my experience of characters, drive into a failing frozen food factory complex to set it on the right course in this extreme world of desert capitalism where the stakes are as high as riches and death Dystopian economic cowboy capitalism Nuts Shades of Hunter S Thompson mixed with Heart of Darkness as well Human life is valued, the middle class are lampooned, the power of middle aged secretaries is regarded like a still life, imagination is left to wonderQuotes and bits The opening paragraph a damning critique of the middle class, page 158In the end I shall be judged They will write about me in books and take care to explain me so badly that it is better that I do it myself They will write with the stupid smugness of middle class intellectuals, people of moral rectitude who have never seriously placed themselves at risk They have supported wars they have not fought in, and damned companies they have not had the courage to destroy Their skins are fair and pampered and their bellies are corseted by expensively made jeansPage 175, take that, middle classThe middle class intellectuals were the first to discover us and we were happy enough to have them around They came up from the south pretending they weren t middle class They drank our wine and smoked our dope and drove around in our Cadillac and did tours of the factory They were most surprised to find that we dressed just like they did We were flattered that they found us so fascinating and delighted when they were scandalized In truth we despised them They were comfortable and had fat arsed ideas They went to bed early to read books about people they would try to copy They didn t know whether to love us or hate us A flippant cruelty animates these clumsily sketched cartoons. Review by Helen HagemannThe Fat Man in History, first published in 1974 by UQP, is a collection of twelve short stories and the least well known of Carey s work The stories contain many aspects of Australian life, its landscape and people The title story, The Fat Man in History, is about a group of rather large men who live in a share house, yet they are the Fat Men Against the Revolution fat now being synonymous with reactionary Peeling depicts the relationship of an older man imposing h Review by Helen HagemannThe Fat Man in History, first published in 1974 by UQP, is a collection of twelve short stories and the least well known of Carey s work The stories contain many aspects of Australian life, its landscape and people The title story, The Fat Man in History, is about a group of rather large men who live in a share house, yet they are the Fat Men Against the Revolution fat now being synonymous with reactionary Peeling depicts the relationship of an older man imposing his sexual impulses on his upstairs neighbour, an abortionist and collector of dolls Peeling is a simulacrum of peeling an onion where the man strips down her body to reveal one of her bare, white painted dolls American Dreams has a simple premise of a man building a wall around his property It is also a satirical look at how townsfolk dream their American dreams They watch American films at the Roxy, and dream, if not of America, then at least of becoming wealthy, owning modern houses, and big motor cars Their hometown, it seems, is the least of their concern when it comes to their aspirations On another level, however, the stories in this volume remain simply fantastical tales of seemingly foreign worlds and unlikely situations ten years after its publication Carey said of the collection, The trouble with academics is that they try too hard to understand these stories They should relax The stories are only about what they seem to be about They are, if you like, a collection of what if stories I took a dozen or so hypotheses and asked what would happen if Peter Carey was born in 1943 in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria where his parents ran a car dealership He worked in advertising and wrote fiction in his spare time Four of his novels were rejected before his short story collection, The Fat Man In History, was published which made him an overnight success.He has won the Booker Prize twice, his first in 1988 for Oscar and Lucinda, the second time in 2001 with The True History of the Kelly Gang Carey has won the Miles Franklin Award three times and his latest books are Parrot and Olivier in America 2010 The Chemistry of Tears 2012 Married for the third time, Carey has two sons and lives in New York.I have read his novels including Bliss, The Tax Inspector, Oscar Lucinda and Jack Maggs, however I think his collection The Fat Man in History was a superior read, a great page turner and probably because of all the stories quirky premise, believe it was way ahead of its time.Helen Hagemann 2012 This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers To view it, click here The entirety of these stories is wonderful, but the most affecting by far is The Chance The story involves Paul, who in his current incarnation, resembles a street fighter, and Carla, one of the extremely beautiful Hups, who have vowed to endure the Lottery so as to truly embody the proletariat by being one of them Paul does not want Carla to undergo this change however, she cannot be swayed from fulfilling this desire The reader is treated to a tearful love story until we come to 17 In The entirety of these stories is wonderful, but the most affecting by far is The Chance The story involves Paul, who in his current incarnation, resembles a street fighter, and Carla, one of the extremely beautiful Hups, who have vowed to endure the Lottery so as to truly embody the proletariat by being one of them Paul does not want Carla to undergo this change however, she cannot be swayed from fulfilling this desire The reader is treated to a tearful love story until we come to 17 In the dark, in the night, something woke me My tongue furry, my eyes like gravel, my head still dulled from the dope and drink, half conscious I half saw the woman sitting in the chair by the bed A fat woman weeping I watched her like television A blue glow from the neon lights in the street showed the coarse, folded surface of her face, her poor lank greying hair, deep creases in her arms and fingers like the folds in babies skin, and the great drapery of chin and neck was reminiscent of drought resistant cattle from India It was not a fair time, not a fair test I am better than that It was the wrong time Undrugged, ungrogged, I would have done better It is unreasonable that such a test should come in such a way But in the deep grey selfish folds of my mean little brain I decided that I had not woken up, that I would not wake up I groaned, feigning sleep and turned over Carla stayed by my bed till morning, weeping softly while I lay with my eyes closed, sometimes sleeping, and sometimes listening In the full light of morning she was gone and had, with bitter reproach, left behind merely one thing a pair of her large grey knickers, wet with the juices of her unacceptable desire I placed them in the rubbish bin and went out to buybeer It in this section that Carey demonstrates his true talent The remonstration of the knickers Carla left for Paul wet with the juices of her unacceptable desires is perfect, full of scornful anger and rebuke Carey follows this story with The Puzzling Nature of Blue, a complete contrast to the rejection of the no longer beautiful woman Carey obviously understands feminist theory quite well, for in The Puzzling Nature of Blue, there is also a couple, the wife initially hating the husband, and then accepting him, a reception so complete that the story ends with her taking her husband s penis in her mouth, despite the fact that the entirety of his body is now blue I realize that all of the stories in this collection are a railing against American colonialism in the 1970s, but I did not perform a metaphorical analysis The literal textual analysis of these two stories was shattering enough For fun Find all the mentions of blue Thank you, Michelle, for always finding wonderful reading material for me in the darkest of times The first five stories resonate the most, but there are many in this collection that will stay with me Such is their conceptual ingenuity and, hey, the execution isn t half bad either Carey knows how to wring weight and implication out of the barest of sentences While some of the themes border on the surreal side, most of these stories are propelled by pure universal human drama.The standouts for me were Do you love me , The Chance and the title story, Exotic Pleasures These three, The first five stories resonate the most, but there are many in this collection that will stay with me Such is their conceptual ingenuity and, hey, the execution isn t half bad either Carey knows how to wring weight and implication out of the barest of sentences While some of the themes border on the surreal side, most of these stories are propelled by pure universal human drama.The standouts for me were Do you love me , The Chance and the title story, Exotic Pleasures These three, I feel, represented a perfect marriage of high end spec fiction concepts and nuanced, true to life relationships The Last Days of a Famous Mime and Peeling were taut and suggested a philosophical leaning lacking in the others, while War Crimes and The Fat Men in History were perfect bookends, representing similar, yet contrasting ends of the same spectrum A Windmill in the West was the only real letdown It wore out its premise early and degenerated into a frustrating dirge though, to be fair to the damn thing, that was in part the point.I recently read Ian McEwan s First Love, Last Rites , a collection that shares a lot of similarities with this one To Carey s credit, I actually got a lotfrom this While the prose styles and concepts are similar, the stories here are deeper,convincing, and areintellectually nourishing than a lot of McEwan s gimmicky early stuff tended to be.The only detractor and I have this a lot with short story collections is the lack of cohesion There doesn t seem to be any grand intent Exotic Pleasures is a hodgepodge collection of quality work With some focusing on character and some on concept, the end impression comes off a little scattered For those of you who like George Saunders, here is George Saunders wearing an Akubra and writing better stories.It s interesting when you come across stories that could have been written yesterday but were actually written decades ago I didn t know Carey had this absurdist, magic realist leaning start and I m glad I ve discovered it These twelve stories are better than most modern Australian short stories The characters are compelling, the plot taut, and the style smooth The influence of Gar For those of you who like George Saunders, here is George Saunders wearing an Akubra and writing better stories.It s interesting when you come across stories that could have been written yesterday but were actually written decades ago I didn t know Carey had this absurdist, magic realist leaning start and I m glad I ve discovered it These twelve stories are better than most modern Australian short stories The characters are compelling, the plot taut, and the style smooth The influence of Garcia Marquez is clear, as is the Australian irreverent gaze at the world It s fascinating how well Carey captured the Australian sentiment towards Americans, something that has mellowed over the last 30 years and moved to the unconscious, largely due to American media and tech insinuating itself into every facet of Australian life.The final story The Fat Man In History has a Handmaid s Tale vibe but would never get the same coverage due to it s brevity and use of the girthy as the oppressed In saying that I felt it did just as much as Atwood s piece and used a lot less of the blunt force trauma approach to getting the message across There s also the sort of scintillating prose you would expect from an ex adman This particular paragraph drew quite a snortOur relationship is beyond analysis It was Bernard, although I prefer to name no names, who suggested that the relationship had a boyscout flavour about it So much he knows Bernard, who travels halfway across London to find the one priest who will forgive his incessant masturbation, cannot be regarded as an authority on the matter A brilliant collection of short stories The Chance Set in a futuristic society, where people gamble for new bodies in a genetic lottery was creepy yet beautifully written with stark description and a sense of this could really happen The namesake story The Fat Man in History is about a group of fatties Now ostracised by society where being fat is no longer acceptable and is seen as a sign of greed Follow the character of Alexander Finch, gross and obese, as he walks out of a department sto A brilliant collection of short stories The Chance Set in a futuristic society, where people gamble for new bodies in a genetic lottery was creepy yet beautifully written with stark description and a sense of this could really happen The namesake story The Fat Man in History is about a group of fatties Now ostracised by society where being fat is no longer acceptable and is seen as a sign of greed Follow the character of Alexander Finch, gross and obese, as he walks out of a department store with bed sheets he has stole, as well as with several cans of smoked oysters that fill the pockets of his floppy trousers, he reflects that since the revolution, to be fat is to be an opressor.This collection of stories certainly gives you food for thought I really loved this I d forgotten how deeply alienating Carey s early work was Bracing reading in our current times. If there s one thing I think goes against postmodernist writers, it might be that they are sometimes too clever for their own good, creating dense stories full of pointless cerebration, without taking the most important factor into consideration, the reader Thankfully for me breezing through Peter Carey for the first time I found he didn t suffer from this problem The stories that make up this collection were both stimulating and entertaining, without being pompous or impenetrable Carey mixes If there s one thing I think goes against postmodernist writers, it might be that they are sometimes too clever for their own good, creating dense stories full of pointless cerebration, without taking the most important factor into consideration, the reader Thankfully for me breezing through Peter Carey for the first time I found he didn t suffer from this problem The stories that make up this collection were both stimulating and entertaining, without being pompous or impenetrable Carey mixes science fiction, surrealism, naturalism and capitalism to great effect, along with the title story, another two I found really good were War Crimes and Puzzling Nature of Blue , examining human nature from different angles, he never loses sight of the characters humanity, something that is widely done in fiction Not all stories grabbed me however, two or three I didn t particularly like, but most range from being good to very good, I wouldn t say any of the stories reach masterpiece status though Was expected something muchweird and obscure, but overall I was surprised at just how accessible they were I applause his splendid writing here, but will definitely need to read one of his novels before heaping too much praise on him Vaak krijgt een bepaalde bevolkingsgroep joden, kleurlingen, allochtonen de schuld van alles wat er mis is in de maatschappij Volgens deze volstrekt arbitraire methode zou deze keuze evengoed op dikke mensen kunnen vallen Dus waarom zou er niet ooit een revolutionaire groepering de macht grijpen en vervolgens beweren dat we in een aards paradijs zouden leven als er maar geen dikke mensen meer bestonden In het titelverhaal van deze bundel beschrijft Peter Carey wat er gebeurt als een groep dikke mensen in deze situatie probeert een contrarevolutie op touw te zetten De verhalen van Carey zijn allegorie n waarin, als in een droom, iets vreemd en dreigends op volstrekt verklaarbare wijze de macht heeft overgenomenIn de verhalen worden ogenschijnlijk bizarre voorvallen door Carey zo overtuigend beschreven dat ze op de alledaagse werkelijkheid lijken