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Sydney Bridge Upside Down: Text Classics
Sydney Bridge Upside Down: Text Classics | David Ballantyne
1 post | 1 read | 3 to read
A great, untamed story about childhood, a summer holiday and a sinister tragedy that looms over everything. Introduction by Kate De Goldi. The terrible happenings take place at the abandoned meatworks in Calliope Bay, a forbidden and dangerous place, where the cries of animals being slaughtered can be heard in the wind. It's a place where Harry Baird finds himself drawn, a place where accidents happen. A place where people die. David Ballantyne is one of New Zealand's greatest writers, was born in Auckland in 1924. His first novel, The Cunninghams, was published to critical acclaim, in both the US and New Zealand, when he was twenty-three. His masterpiece Sydney Bridge Upside Down was published in 1968. He was beginning to struggle with alcoholism but continued to write, and was to produce seven books in all. Kate De Goldi was born in Christchurch. She is a regular radio and television book reviewer in New Zealand. Her books for young adults are published internationally to great acclaim. textclassics.com.au 'What begins as the story of an ordinary country boy quickly turns strange and unpredictable indeed...Funny, inventively written, and more than slightly odd, Sydney Bridge Upside Down makes a long-awaited and welcome return.' Sonya Hartnett 'It holds in heartbreaking tension that point between innocence and experience, sanity and disarray that we recognize in works as disparate as Iain Banks's The Wasp Factory and Hal Porter's The Watcher on the Cast-Iron Balcony, in which the private catechisms of childhood and adolescence are translated into an adult tongue.' Weekend Australian 'How did we fail to give this gripping, funny, desperately sad, great New Zealand novel, set "on the edge of the world", its due when it was first published in 1968?...Not until last year when l was urged to read it again did l fully understand what a masterpiece Ballantyne had pulled off.' NZ Herald 'Sydney Bridge Upside Down is a gothic masterpiece that subverts many of the norms of realist fiction in a way that justifies its reputation as not only one of the most important local novels of the 1960s, but one whose terms seem clearer with the benefit of hindsight and thus resonate even more insistently today.' Listener
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This unsettling book is referred to as “The great unread NZ novel” in the introduction to this rerelease by Text classics. First published in 1968 it seems to have long fallen by the wayside and I had never heard of it until a copy began circulation in my book club.
I have mixed feelings on this one but it is certainly a story that is very hard to shake off and also one that needs multiple reads. Perplexing retro NZ storytelling.

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