The Children’s Writer by Gary Crew

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Courtesy Forth Estate

Famous Australian
writer Gary Crew takes a tongue-in-cheek poke at his profession in his
entertaining and ironic novel The
Children’s Writer.
Crew is the
award-winning author of a prolific number of children’s books and books for
young adults – deeming him more than eligible to give us an insider’s look at
the world of writing in all its guts and glory.
The Children’s Writer
Charlie Bloome is
a 23-year-old student of literature living with his 19-year-old girlfriend
Alice (as in Wonderland) Lutyens who he calls Lootie. He wants to be a writer
and she is studying to be a teacher. They have a good life together.
This all changes
one Sunday afternoon when she drags him to a lecture to listen to the
“internationally acclaimed” children’s author and her childhood idol, Sebastian
Chanteleer.
Chanteleer and
Lootie form an immediate bond and Charlie is left on the outer looking in, all
the while questioning his own ambitions, abilities and shortcomings.
He watches
Chanteleer hussle his way into their lives and he has no control. As the bond
between the aging writer and the beautiful young woman grows, Charlie must come
to terms with the fact his relationship with Lootie is on the downward spiral.
Characters in The
Children’s Writer
Sebastian
Chanteleer’s books are out of print, his covers are dated and he cannot relate
to the children of today. He doesn’t even like children. Chanteleer wears odd
socks and a bow tie. In his own mind he dresses the way a children’s writer
should dress. He is cruel to his aging mother and treats his brother as a
servant. He is the worst type of person.
Lootie is taken
in by everything about Chanteleer, and constantly compares his experience and
maturity with Charlie’s, only to find fault in the latter. She is completely
seduced by the world of a famous children’s author, though ironically, he isn’t
famous anymore and no-one even knows who he is.
Charlie is the
underdog in this story; the boofy Monkey Boy; the spandex-wearing bike courier
who is haunted by the past. In his first few years at university, he nursed his
dying and dominate mother while reflecting on his catholic upbringing and
non-existent father. But Charlie is a good person, and it is this
characteristic that the reader can take solace in.
Book Industry Awards
The Children’s Writer is irony at its best. It is the story of a
successful children’s writer writing about a successful children’s writer who
is writing about a successful children’s writer.
In it, Crew takes
a swipe at the whole world surrounding the book industry and its associated
awards. While it is documented that Chanteleer has won numerous children’s book
awards, Charlie can’t find a bookshop in Melbourne that has stocked him in 10
years. Most booksellers don’t even know who he is.
In an interview
with N.A. Bourke from Perilous Adventures, 2009, Crew states: “Many people win
awards that are banged on about and they have no readership. A lot of people
are award-driven, famous for awards, but no-one actually reads them. Chanteleer
is one of that sort. “
Ironic then that
Crew has won a bucket load of awards.
About Gary Crew
Gary Crew in the
author of more than 50 books for children and young adults. He is an Associate
Professor of Creative Writing at the University of the Sunshine Coast in
Queensland.
The Children’s Writer (Fourth Estate – an imprint of Harper Collins, 2009,
ISBN: 9780732285869, 233 pages).
My rating: ★★★

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