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eddy, eddy by Kate De Goldi

Kate De Goldi has the ability to connect with people. Looking back at her selection of novels and short stories produced, it is easy to spot the fact that her talent is, of course, the stellar prose that she produces, but more so is the way she captures the essence of the times, she looks for those small moments where ‘life’ happens, and then is able to bring them to the fore and celebrate the connectivity that comes from these times.

Many of her previous titles feature as either required texts or recommended reading lists around the country’s high school English programmes and she, herself, is a huge advocate for the promotion of reading and the importance of the skill of reading for the preservation not just of high school English, but of humanity.

The 10pm Question for example, is one of those rare texts that transform the landscape of genre and transcend their direct audience (it’s in about its 3rd generation of readers after its hugely successful launch in 2008!)

But I digress. Kate De Goldi’s latest novel Eddy Eddy the first first in five years from the author. It’s the characterisation of the city of Christchurch (De Goldi’s home town) post-earthquake, that really captured the imagination. The almost war-ravaged feel of the place and the incorporation of those little details as aforementioned, that make the place what it was, and indeed what it now is. It sets the scene for our intelligent protagonist, Eddy, to take centre stage amongst the recovery. It’s clearly got a link with the premise of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol with the kind of transformative power of those around us coming through strongly. Indeed there is even a Marley - who is dead - although the Marley in question is a Labrador rather than a previous working partner.

There is a strong familial connection between Eddy and his slightly eccentric, Brain… Not Brian, Brain. At first one may think there is some sort of outerbody experience where Eddy is speaking to his subconscious, but no, that the name of his Uncle. Through this relationship we meet a host of characters who contribute, in their own way, to Eddy’s experience. Some are off-beat ruffians, while others leave an imprint on Eddy’s heart.

Eddy has an affection for animals, as demonstrated with his entrepreneurial spirit with pet walking, but finds himself struggling with some of the more existential questions of life: love, relationships, sex, religion. And we, as readers, are immersed in this world of De Goldi’s creation. The characters are viscerally presented and all of them (human and animal) are immensely three dimensional, and funny.

As with her previous works, De Goldi writes with a passion and the craft of one who gets people. She has a humour which is tangible on the page and she is able to construct these intricate narratives where - like lace - each piece is beautifully connected and patterned within its own structure.

Overall, this is one of the standouts for the year. Heartfelt, humorous and tremendously human. Get ready to fall in love with Kate De Goldi’s writing all over again with this one. Once again, her command of the language is really a triumph.

Reviewer: Chris Reed

Allen & Unwin


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