Available now from Knopf (Penguin Random House)
Two-time Man Booker Award winner Peter Carey has written some amazingly beautiful books. AMNESIA is not one of them. It starts promisingly, with a young woman (Gaby Baillieux) using a computer virus to release Australian prisoners - and accidentally unleashing the virus on American prisons too. I couldn't wait to read Carey's literary take on a sci-fi thriller premise.
Unfortunately, the actual main character is Felix Moore, a disgraced journalist who kisses basically every woman in the story despite being old, in debt, nationally regarded as a liar, and otherwise devoid of any personal magnetism. The blurb describes him as 'known to himself as “our sole remaining left-wing journalist,”' which says basically everything you need to know about his self-aggrandizing asshole tendencies. This is pretty typical of his thought process:
"I wasn't really a creep. I was a good person. I had been secretly in love with her. I had lost her to another man. Now was not the time for that discussion." - page 62, ARC
The plot is a meandering thing, weaving back and forth in the past for multiple generations, tying obscure Australian history to Felix's romantic woes to Gaby acting like a twenty year old when she was supposedly born in 1975. Not to mention Gaby herself doesn't really come into play until a third to halfway through the book, and then mostly through rambling tapes that get filtered to Felix. Felix, whose only interesting quality is being an unreliable narrator.
I thought AMNESIA was a total, nigh impenetrable slog. I kept having to look at the cover to confirm that yes, this wasn't some random other Peter Carey. I don't even think this is essential for fans.