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Flames - Robbie Arnott

Paperback Published: 30th April 2018
ISBN: 9781925603521
Number Of Pages: 256

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Two siblings traverse the southern island to try to find their way back to each other in this tale about grief and love and the bonds of family.

A young man named Levi McAllister decides to build a coffin for his twenty-three-year-old sister, Charlotte - who promptly runs for her life. A water rat swims upriver in quest of the cloud god. A fisherman named Karl hunts for tuna in partnership with a seal. And a father takes form from fire.

The answers to these riddles are to be found in this tale of grief and love and the bonds of family, tracing a journey across the southern island that takes us full circle.

Flames sings out with joy and sadness. Utterly original in conception, spellbinding in its descriptions of nature and its celebration of the power of language, it announces the arrival of a thrilling new voice in contemporary fiction.

Industry Reviews

`A strange and joyous marvel.' -- Richard Flanagan
`Ambitious storytelling from a stunning new Australian voice. Flames is constantly surprising-I never knew where the story would take me next. This book has a lovely sense of wonder for the world. It's brimming with heart and compassion.' -- Rohan Wilson
`Robbie Arnott is a vivid and bold new voice in Australian fiction.' -- Danielle Wood
`Visionary, vivid, full of audacious transformations: there's a marvellous energy to this writing that returns the world to us aflame. A brilliant and wholly original debut.' -- Gail Jones
`Arnott skilfully switches between different voices and genres in a trick reminiscent of David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas. The range he displays is impressive, swinging from fable to gothic horror to hardboiled detective story.' * Books+Publishing *
`Flames is an exuberantly creative and confident debut. This is a story that sparks with invention...Invigorating, strange and occasionally brutal.' * Australian Book Review *
`This is the kind of book that you'll be able to read a second, third, even fourth time, and it will still never reveal all its secrets. Composed with meticulous attention to detail, and a mastery of form rarely found in a debut novel, Flames will keep you stewing long after you've finished reading it.' * Readings *
`Poignant and beautifully written...Richly detailed...A stunning homage to Tasmania...A deep and powerful reflection on what it is to be human and how we navigate the ravages of loss. I haven't read a more unique debut Australian work in a very long time and was mesmerised by the story. It took hold of me from the first page and had me captivated until the end. Such is the uniqueness of Arnott's voice and his effortless ability to combine an eclectic mix of genres into a potent narrative, this story sings and continues to resonate long after finishing. It was as if I had been drawn into the Tasmanian bush myself.' * Bathurst City Life *
'A surprising story with a definite feminist edge...the novel's playfulness and poetry make for a fresh and entertaining read.' * Saturday Paper *
`The key triumph of Flames is bringing Australia's southern island state to vivid life, characterising it as a robust survivor shaped by the extremes of fire and flood.' * Big Issue *
`Arnott confidently borrows from the genres of crime fiction, thriller, romance, comedy, eco-literature, and magical realism, throws them in the air, and lets the pieces land to form a flaming new world.' * Sydney Morning Herald *
`This is a startlingly good first novel, stylistically adventurous, gorgeous in its descriptions and with a compelling narrative that should find a wide readership.' * Australian *
`It will be immediately apparent to anyone even vaguely familiar with Tasmania that Arnott is on intimate terms with his island, and his exquisite descriptive prose definitely does this gem of a place justice...More please, Mr Arnott.' * BookMooch *
`A gloriously audacious book. It runs astonishing risks and takes on the biggest emotions...It bowled me sideways.' * New Zealand Herald *
`Unique and memorable...Extraordinary energy...A rich and memorable picture with prose of an exceptionally high quality. You won't read another Australian literary novel like this anytime soon.' * Kill Your Darlings *
`An extremely evocative and imaginative work...Undeniably powerful...it is refreshing to see the Australian landscape written about so vividly.' * Good Reading *
`The quirkiness of the characters-a staple of novels set in small-town Australia-allows for good-natured humour as well as biting satire, but it's the mythic qualities of this novel that make it special. It's as if Arnott has invented a whole mythology that is all our very own. If you like the fiction of Jane Rawson, I think you will like this one too.' * ANZ Lit Lovers *
`[A] novel you will want to read more than once, not so much to plumb its depths as to savour its wild variety of styles and voices, to revel in its breathtaking descriptions of Tasmanian wilderness and to grasp its intricate structure...There is no doubt that a poetically wild and wicked imagination is at work here. More please!' * SA Weekend *
`It's not hard to see where the hype came from. This is an assured, funny and highly imaginative work. Flames is strange from the first, arresting sentence.' * Stuff NZ *
`Highly innovative...[A] finely built and realised first novel.' * Otago Daily Times *
`An Australian literary fabulist classic - well, it certainly deserves to be.' * Avid Reader *
`Flames is brilliant...Enjoy it for its prose poetry, its vivid imagery, its brilliant turns of phrase on nearly every page.' * NZ Listener *

Amazing read. Fantastical with a lot of heart


A great read and story told with humor and heart



outstanding debut novel


"Black spurs of the mountain range poked high and sharp above them, daggering up into the pale sky. The sheer cliffs that fell away from these peaks revealed great faces of jagged Jurassic rock. Down where the land was less vertical snowgums gnarled their way out of frozen dirt, their trunks a patchwork of grey-brown-green, as if all the colours of the forest had poured themselves into a single species of tree." Flames is the first novel by Australian advertising copywriter and author, Robbie Arnott. About a third of the McAllister women die twice. Levi McAllister's mother, Edith came back for four days after she was cremated, hung around adorned in ferns and moss, then burst into flames on his father, Jack's front lawn. Levi's gotten over that, but his sister Charlotte is still suffering a deep grief. Levi's somewhat twisted logic leads him to a bizarre solution: he will build her a coffin. When Charlotte stumbles upon his plans, she flees: "All she has left of her mother are photos and memories and a family tradition of flames, and she won't let him take them from her. Charlotte will burn, tomorrow or in half a century, but she will burn. And she might return. Though that isn't the point." Charlotte heads south. From there, the story progresses through different narrators and from different perspectives with each successive chapter. Each is titled with a significant word and, while the connections between them are sometimes tenuous, sometimes clear and strong, all falls into place by the final chapter. Most of the chapters are in narrative form, but other formats also feature: a series of letters; entries from a diary; and a chapter from a yet-to-be-published book. Arnott uses an assortment of characters to tell the tale: a paranoid woodwork enthusiast; a nosy small-town matron with literary aspirations; a private investigator with a thirst for gin; a deity in the form of a water rat; a wombat-farmer slowly descending into madness; a National Park Ranger; a




5.0 2


ISBN: 9781925603521
ISBN-10: 1925603520
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 256
Published: 30th April 2018
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 23.2 x 15.3  x 2.2
Weight (kg): 0.33

Earn 48 Qantas Points
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