Utopian Man (2010)
Utopian Man (2010)
About book: Lisa Lang has great empathy and admiration for E.W. Cole. A man who found his wife by placing an advertisement in a paper, who opened up an arcade where the rich and poor were treated equally, was a supporter of racial equality, and a friend to monkeys. A salesman and entrepreneur who treated his employees and customers with respect and fairness. He supported his children in whatever path they chose.The book, although a fictional account, has a good pace and gives a number of snap shots into the life of a remarkable man. His passionate hatred of the White Australian policy was not popular and his views were well advanced for his times. I wanted to love this book, I really did. It had all the makings of a great novel- an interesting setting, a quirky protagonist, a beautiful dream, and many substantial hurdles, but it didn't at all deliver on its promise. Don't get me wrong, it wasn't AWFUL, but nothing infuriates me more than books which seem to be leading in particular directions but never quite get there, and this book does it like none other I've ever read. Without fail, EVERY SINGLE story arc that is introduced falls flat- the sultry widow & her effect on the protagonist's marriage, the impact of the Depression, the protagonist's work in the Gold fields, the effect of a character's drug addiction. Not one of the plot points (or characters) is given enough attention so as to leave the reader with a strong sense of who these people are and of the impact of the story arcs on their "lives", and thus we're left with wooden, 2-dimensional characters and seemingly irrelevant events. The end result is an overall feeling of dissatisfaction and frustration with the book, and the sense that you were a little ripped off by the author. I'm unsure whether this writing style is intentional or due to a lack of experience on the author's part, but as this is her first book I'll give her the benefit of the doubt. And it wasn't all bad- it's well-written, magical in places, and extremely easy to read. That said, I can't promise that I'll be rushing out to read any of her future works any time soon.
It was okay. I read it because I read the Cole's Funny Picture Books when I was younger.
Rich and wonderful snapshot of one of Melbourne's most interesting characters.
The ending has me a little out-of-sorts, but I loved this book!