30 Days in Sydney: A Wildly Distorted Account by Peter Carey

By Peter Carey

“This is a fabulously idiosyncratic small masterpiece ... it’s so strong it takes your breath away.”—Times (UK)

After dwelling in a foreign country for years, novelist Peter Carey returns domestic to Sydney and makes an attempt to catch its personality. looking the aid of his outdated associates, Carey is quickly drawn into their unusual, anarchic worlds, every one orbiting where he has come again to determine. the result's a wild and lovely trip of discovery and rediscovery as bracing because the southerly bluster that usually batters Sydney’s shorelines. well-known attractions comparable to Bondi seashore, the Opera condo, the Harbour Bridge and the Blue Mountains all tackle an odd new depth whilst uncovered to the penetrating gaze of the writer and his friends.

30 Days in Sydney bargains the reader a fascinating glimpse at the back of the facades and the Venetian blinds of the city.

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Perhaps that is why my most recent fieldwork was in Lao PDR, passing through Bangkok to obtain a visa to enter another, very different Tai space. Thailand, Thai studies and anthropology have changed over the past Crafting Thailand 25 quarter century and, as glimpsed in my reflections of fieldwork in Thailand, so have I. The changes in my personal circumstances – from volunteer and graduate student to professor and consultant – influenced the way I have been treated, the access I have had to informants, and the way I observed gender relations.

With word passed down from on high, the many local guardians are prepared to assist in every valley and backwater. (1972:78) There are thus many routes for interpreting kalatesa outside the royal centres. Kalatesa is embedded in a complex astrological tradition operating in court and village settings for hundreds of years, although today interest in astrology is considered to be highest among educated, urban middle class and lowest among farmers and the urban poor (Cook 38 Materializing Thailand 1991:237).

Flowers, jewels and silk – the gendered accoutrements of Thai beauty. The visual appeal of Thailand attracts the eye and subverts the gaze from prostitution, pollution, poverty, and traffic jams. Thailand appeals 35 36 Materializing Thailand to tourists but the public culture that appeals is constructed for and by Thai. The cards are a reminder of how that public culture exoticizes and reifies Thailand’s image to enhance the country’s international reputation and tourist appeal. This chapter explores how a sense of order is constructed through representations of Thai women, using two metaphors for time – one from Thai etiquette (kalatesa) and one from English literature (palimpsest).

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