The Last Magician by Janet Turner Hospital is a Good Book showcased in the Outpost 10F Library.
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The Last Magician

Rating: The Last Magician by Janet Turner Hospital is a Good Book rated 5/5 by this reviewer.
Published: 1992
Author: Janet Turner Hospital
Review by: CL8 Brady

The Last Magician was a piece of art that not only renewed my interest in novels (before it I hadn't read outside of school assignments since Goosebumps) but it sparked an infatuation. While it may seem like an extremely challenging read to start with, this novel slowly sucks you in with its powerful, dynamic, dark and curious characters. Hospital's command of prose is also obvious as each page you read glides like poerty.

Perhaps the most challenging aspect of the story is the dislocation of traditional linear narrative. It is not easy to read for at least the first half of the book, but it is worth it and a great challenge especially for those readers bored with convention and the norm. If you don't want to know the ins and outs of the actual narrative, don't read on! But do go get the book.

The story is centred on the lives of four Queensland children (Charlie, Cat, Catherine and Robbie) and the peripheral characters that cross their paths (Lucy, Gabriel, Sheba, etc). When the magical childhood of the four core characters is interrupted by the accidental death of Cat’s mentally disabled brother Willy, an inexorable bond is formed between the four children that is both painful and eternal. In the aftermath of the accident, the line of the law (representing modernity and the system) is drawn and the children are separated. The Last Magician is narrated by Lucy/Lucia, a private school girl turned bar-maid turned prostitute turned documentary maker. She is connected to the story by a romantic relationship with Gabriel, the son of Robbie/Robinson Gray – the child that followed in his father’s footsteps to become a Supreme Court Justice and a member of the prestigious Order of Australia. Later, Lucy goes on to work in Charlie’s Inferno, a restaurant/bar/brothel managed by Charlie. Lucy learns of the story prior to her involvement in it through conversations with Charlie, and through the most obvious parts of the puzzle – his photographs. Unable to resist the need to (re)enter into Cat’s magical orbit, Gabriel and Charlie become obsessed with finding her. They are held hostage by “…that which will not be dislodged,” (1992: 154) which eventually leads them out of Lucy’s sphere and thus out of the story. Whilst we do not ultimately know exactly what became of Gabriel and Charlie, there are clues that invite the reader to wonder. For the cultural theorists among you, this work regarded by many as the apex of postmodern art touches on notions of order and chaos, time and memory, freedom and bondage, shapeshifting and identity and the dual binaries between them.

Not an easy read, but one that will enchant you and swallow you if you put a little work in.

Title: The Last Magician
Author: Janet Turner Hospital
Review by: CL8 Brady