(1 customer review)

Axeman’s Carnival


Axeman’s Carnival

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Author: Catherine Chidgey
Format: Trade Paperback C Format
Publication date: 04/10/2022
ISBN: 9781776920051

Everywhere, the birds: sparrows and skylarks and thrushes, starlings and bellbirds, fantails and pipits – but above them all and louder, the magpies. We are here and this is our tree and we’re staying and it is ours and you need to leave and now. Tama is just a helpless chick when he is rescued by Marnie, and this is where his story might have ended. ‘If it keeps me awake,’ says Marnie’s husband Rob, a farmer, ‘I’ll have to wring its neck.’ But with Tama come new possibilities for the couple’s future. Tama can speak, and his fame is growing. Outside, in the pines, his father warns him of the wickedness wrought by humans. Indoors, Marnie confides in him about her violent marriage. The more Tama sees, the more the animal and the human worlds – and all of the precarity, darkness and hope within them – bleed into one another. Like a stock truck filled with live cargo, the story moves inexorably towards its dramatic conclusion: the annual Axeman’s Carnival. Part trickster, part surrogate child, part witness, Tama the magpie is the star of this story. Though what he says aloud to humans is often nonsensical (and hilarious with it), the tale he tells us weaves a disturbingly human sense. The Axeman’s Carnival is Catherine Chidgey at her finest – comic, profound, poetic and true.

1 review for Axeman’s Carnival

  1. Sue Reid, Read by Reid

    Marnie is isolated, not only in South Island farm terrain, but in life and hope. At a vulnerable time of loss and heartache, Marnie claims a young magpie that has fallen from its nest – and so, the two forge a bond. Through her nurture and hand feeding, Tama the magpie, becomes her all-seeing eye and all-knowing of the dark reality in Marnie’s domestic life.

    Throughout Chidgey’s novel, Tama is the ‘truth and hope’ – a most enduring character but doesn’t reduce to ‘cheesy anthropomorphism’. Tama lifts the tale into a hopeful and courageous narrative. If you enjoyed the 2018 novel, Lucky Galah by Tracy Sorensen then you will enjoy this genuine comparison.

    Reviewed by Read by Reid.

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