An elegant young man


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Story image

An Elegant Young Man

UWS Doctoral Candidate Luke Carman was recently awarded Best Young Australian Novelist for 2014 by the Sydney Morning Herald for his debut novel, An Elegant Young Man.

The book was also shortlisted for the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal.

The book is a collection of monologues and stories set in Western Sydney. You can find an excerpt below and read more on the Sydney Morning Herald website (opens in a new window) and the UWS News Centre webpage (opens in a new window).

For more information and to buy the book, please visit the Giramondo Publishing website (opens in a new window).

Before he had a stroke, before he went bald and died, Ginsberg saw the best minds of his generation starving naked and hysterical. I didn’t see that exactly. I wandered around Penrith Plaza eating kebabs and reading On the Road and calling the world an ecstatic masterpiece until I learned that the world moves from order to disorder just like black holes and middle-class families.

Then I ran into my old comrade Arnold Augustine at Sydenham station.

Arnold leapt when he saw me and said, ‘Hey I haven’t seen you since high school bro, remember me? You used to say I was a halo-headed hipster? Remember all the crazy things we did bro? Man I’m glad I’ve run into you, y’know, because I’m writing a series of informational diaries called “the bio-energetic properties of shit and permaculture emergencies” and it’s all about you and me!’

I said, ‘Arnold,’ and I looked up at his sweet Fijian face and I said ‘Listen man, I remember. I haven’t seen you since high school, but I remember everything. I remember when I told you that you were a wunderkind, a roman candle burning mad and hysterical and that I wanted you to go on smoking into the long Australian night. Well, you need to know Arnold that I’ve been to university now, spoken to the professors and read A Thousand Plateaus and all the Cultural Studies Reviews – every issue, every page – and let me say man: I was wrong! I need you to know that I’m sorry, but I was wrong.’

Arnold frowned at me and he went to speak but I continued.

‘All Kerouac ever did was teach boys that drinking wine and tapping keys is poetry-making and it shits me to tears because you don’t realise that Australia, the country that you’re supposed to be from, doesn’t have any-damn-thing to do with Kerouac and even though you’re a Fijian immigrant, and that gives you cultural immunity from everything I’m saying, until you drop the Aussie accent and revisit your own cultural heritage, well, I’m sorry but I have to go.’ And I leapt down the Sydenham station steps two by two.