There are things in his past that Harry Bascombe definitely doesn't want to remember. But when a nosy journalist with a taste for scandal turns up out of the blue, he is forced to confront his memories...
An uncertain and diffident boy, Harry struggles to survive a suburban upbringing in the 1950s - the era of Menzies and the menace of Reds under the bed, the excitement of the Melbourne Olympics and the arrival of television in Australia. Family life is complicated, with an ineffectual father, a highly strung mother who is leading a double life, and an older brother who is 'not quite himself'. School is no easier. Harry is tormented by embittered sports master, Mr van Enst, and his thuggish classmate Derek Knowles. However hard young Harry tries to stay out of trouble, it seems he is always 'asking for it' - Mr van Enst and Derek Knowles certainly think so. Unwittingly, Harry becomes trapped in a spiral of murderous violence and intimidation that he can neither understand nor resist.
Darkly funny and brutally frank, Asking for Trouble is a surprisingly tender and moving novel about the corrosive power of secrets and the consequences of standing up to bullies.
About the Author
Peter Timms was born and educated in Melbourne and from 1971 until 1988 was employed in a number of public art galleries and museums in Victoria and New South Wales. He has been a freelance writer since 1988, including periods as art critic for The Age and editor of Art Monthly Australia. He writes regularly for publications both in Australia and overseas. His books include Australian Studio Potter, The Nature of Gardens, Making Nature: Six Walks in the Bush, What's Wrong with Contemporary Art?, Philip Wolfhagen and Australia's Quarter Acre.
Read Caroline Baum's Review
Distinguished art critic Peter Timms reveals a sharp talent for fiction with this astringent debut novel in which school bullying turns into something with far reaching consequences.
The story is told through the eyes of Harry Bascombe: he’s a shy boy with a not quite right in the head brother, a highly strung mother and an ineffectual father. He’s no good at sports and he has few friends. He’d rather forget his childhood but now a nosey researcher for a history program about a murder case comes calling, forcing Harry to remember what he would rather forget and to attempt to put things right.
What makes this such a satisfying read is the combination of well observed characters and period detail, the evocation of the fifties and its social conventions, the paranoia about communism, the excitement around the Olympics, the innovation of television and Harry’s vinegary point of view.