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Buy *Amnesia* by Peter Careyonline

Peter Carey
320 pages
January 2015
rated 4 of 5 possible stars

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Carey orchestrates a tableau of family dysfunction played out on a national stage. A group of past-their-prime adults are taken to school by a disaffected, deeply unhappy daughter who has found her true voice in the world of the Internet, the training ground for those with the imagination to recognize the future. When Gaby Baillieux releases the Angel Worm, the Australian prison system opens its doors. More importantly, the American system is affected as well, and what might be contained as a national problem is complicated by the Americans’ wish to extradite the culprit for her cyber-crime.

Daughter of famous film star Celine Baillieux and a political father, Sandor Quinn, Gaby is in hiding while her mother engineers a plot to rescue her from trouble: a biography written by the once-popular writer Felix Moore, who has recently fallen from grace, scooped up for the project by Celine and wealthy power broker Woody Townes. Felix is induced to write Gaby’s story, thus saving his reputation and his marriage. It is in the writing of Gaby’s tale--and the revelation of Moore’s long relationship with Celine, Sandor and Woody--that some ugly truths are finally laid bare, the building blocks of Gaby’s disaffection grown into a creature of her own rebellion.

Whatever the beliefs, failures and misspent passions of her parents’ generation, Gaby has left their world behind in the process of creating her own. She is dangerous in her talent for cyber-mischief, damaged by the selfish eccentricities of her actress mother and helpless father, easy prey for ideas that seem her own. She is morally certain by virtue of youth, and at the mercy of those who would hold her accountable. These are facts appreciated by the past-midlife adults but scorned by a privileged young woman who has been left too long at the mercy of her own inventions, the structure of her childhood carelessly broken by parents too caught up in their own vanities.

The elders--Felix, Celine and Woody--are emblematic of a generation too steeped in politics, rebellion, power and deceit. The novel really only gains resonance through recorded tapes of Gaby’s childhood travails as Moore pieces together the girl’s story. The hackneyed politics of the Battle of Brisbane and the CIA-influenced Australian Coup of 1975 are fodder for the unraveling of a tangled history through the perspective of a self-indulgent writer, the actress on whom he has obsessed, and the wealthy, brutally-efficient Towne, who seeks to control every aspect of the project. While the history is colorful, the jaded characters (except for the bright and volatile Gaby) are crippled by a lifetime of selfish behaviors. The passions of youth sag under the weight of missed opportunities, petty resentments, and a limited ability for honest self-reflection.

Amnesia suggests the evolution of a new world where sabotage from within is the ultimate civil disobedience and the ramifications are mind-boggling. It is an age of revolution, both technological and intellectual, battles waged in code rather than bullets. A new language alters the landscape and the players, a world at war more with its past than its future, evolving in spite of resistance.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Luan Gaines, 2015

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