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Bail, Murray

(Australian, 1941–)

Bail has published three novels, of which Eucalyptus (1998), is the most interesting and rewarding. The plot is fairy-tale: a widower has a beautiful daughter, and sets a test for her suitors. The man to win her hand must be able to name the species of each of the hundreds of gum trees planted on the father's property. Suitors try and fail, until eventually a story-telling stranger appears. Attached to each species' name (the chapter titles) is a story. Inventive and dream-like, this is a beautifully written novel, although the characters—particularly the heroine, Ellen—are little more than cyphers. Holden's Performance (1987) is more comic, following the hero's epic progression from Adelaide to Sydney to Canberra, to become bodyguard to the Prime Minister. He encounters a number of larger-than-life characters along the way. Bail has also written short stories, and edited a collection of Australian stories.

Angela Carter, Peter Carey  JR

Additional topics

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionBooks & Authors: Award-Winning Fiction (A-Bo)