06 March 2012

The Cartographer

by Peter Twohig

 4th Estate Fiction, Australian, Adult Fiction, Paperback, $29.99

Guest Reviewer - Vicki Stanton

The Cartographer is a book unlike any I have ever read before. Told from the perspective of the eleven-year-old unnamed narrator, it draws us in to the shadowy world of working class Richmond (Melbourne) in 1959. It is a world filled dodgy, sometimes lovable characters, including his Grandfather; bent cops; oddball and damaged people; and some who are just downright mongrels in the extreme.

Twohig uses the vernacular of the times to totally immerse the reader in this world as well as many references to the comics, superheroes, music, television shows, politics, and of course being Melbourne, the football. (I laughed out loud at the line: Life can be murder when the footy season is over).

The heart of The Cartographer lies in the boy’s attempts to make sense of his world following the death of his twin but never does he do this in a maudlin way. With spirit and guts, and the help of his superhero alter-egos and his brave sidekicks (his trusty dogs) he maps his surroundings, above ground and under. 

Above all, The Cartographer is a nod to the innocence and resilience of childhood, even when viewed through glasses tinted with vice and loss.


Vicki Stanton is the editor and publisher of Buzz Words, an e-zine for writers and illustrators for children.

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