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Fools’ Paradise: Life in an Altered State

8 August 2011 12,559 views 11 Comments

“Wake up, Australia,” Grafton Everest exhorts viewers every morning on Australia-wide breakfast television.

This doesn’t please those he attacks like wily former premier Hoogstraden, whose biography Grafton is forced into writing.

Grafton’s day job as Professor of LifeSkills and Hospitality is under threat from the economically and sexually rapacious Vice-Chancellor Deirdre Morrow.

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And Lee Horton, head of Australia’s newly privatised Secret Service (trading as SpyForce Australia) is worried too. He knows that Grafton has trouble lying.

And nothing is more dangerous than a man who habitually tells the truth.

Grafton Everest is a wonderful creation whom I would place without question in the ranks of Philip Roth’s Portnoy and Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim. – Barry Humphries

Conquering Everest – Howard Jacobson, The Observer (London)

Fools’ Paradise is Grafton Everest’s most over-the-top excursion—it has more sex than before, crazier politics, more pointless academic life, a tighter net of anxieties. – Carl Harrison-Ford

Grafton Everest … a slob making Les Patterson seem a class act. Broad comedy, very rude and, for anyone liking gleefully scabrous humour, very funny as well. – Daily Mail (London)

11 Comments »

  • Neal Price said:

    Cant wait for this one… the first Grafton Everest book had Grafton and his family swirling around on his bed in the flood waters that over took Brisbane when the Esk dam burst.. does Ross Fitzgerald have psychic powers or is he just the funniest and smartest satirical writer in Australia at the moment? I think so!

  • Ross Fitzgerald said:

    Not easy to be jester in court gone mad

    IT’S getting harder and harder to write satire. Those of us trying to think up wildly absurd ideas are constantly being undermined and gazumped by reality.

    The “real” world has become so absurd. Conservative gays forming the Gay Shooters Party? Look up the Pink Pistols in Wikipedia. Cane toad leather goods? Check out eBay. What about a rock opera based on Milton’s Paradise Lost? Improbable? Well, it has recently been announced that Alex Proyas, the director of I, Robot, will be making a film of Paradise Lost in Sydney. Partly funded by the NSW government, it stars actor Bradley Cooper as Lucifer. Sounds a hoot. Fact is certainly stranger and funnier than fiction, much of the time, or so it seems.

    Satirists, meanwhile, are in the uncomfortable position of playing court jester in a world gone mad. They need to be familiar with the ways of the powerful to make a living. But they know that at any time they might well get the chop!

    Confronted by overwhelming power, words are sometimes the only weapons available. It is not surprising that, in Queensland, much biting satire was hatched at the height of Joh Bjelke-Petersen’s authoritarian reign. It was a time of rapacious development, rampant environmental destruction and violent law and order confrontations between phalanxes of jackbooted police, be-thonged hippies and sandal-wearing Christians.

    While everything and everyone is fair game for the satirist, satire does have its own moral code. Satire takes aim at the powerful, or those who think they are. If humour is directed at little people, it’s merely a form of bullying.

    While satire draws its inspiration from real life, at its best it is neither name-calling nor mimicry. We can be amused by the technical accomplishment of the mimic whose portrayal of character is exact. In contrast, satirists exaggerate personal characteristics and situations in much the same way as caricaturists do. And for the same reason – to get people thinking about the way we are and where we are heading.

    This is why writing satire is so difficult, and so necessary, never more so than now. Even so, any self-respecting satirist has his or her work cut out playing catch-up with the absurdities of real life.

    Ross Fitzgerald and Trevor Jordan’s social and political satire, ‘Fools’ Paradise: Life in an Altered State’, is published in Melbourne next month by PressOn/Arcadia.

    The Wry Side, The Australian, August 25, 2011

  • Stephen Matchett said:

    Well-schooled eye for scandal:

    Ross Fitzgerald’s new novel reprises his character Grafton Everest.

    ALL appearances to the contrary, academic cultures don’t take themselves too seriously, as recent novels by local academics Ross Fitzgerald (with Trevor Jordan) and Michael Wilding demonstrate.

    ALL appearances to the contrary, academic cultures don’t take themselves too seriously, as recent novels by local academics Ross Fitzgerald (with Trevor Jordan) and Michael Wilding demonstrate.

    In ‘Fools’ Paradise’, released today, Fitzgerald resurrects Grafton Everest, who first appeared in 1988 as a lecturer at the politically progressive Bowen University in Queensland (gosh, now what institution could it be based on?). Years on, he has reached the lofty level of telepundit and professor of life skills and hospitality at the University of Mangoland, where he remains aggrieved by the greed and follies of the great, many of which he shares.

    In the 1980s, Grafton was worked up by the conservative politics of the place, now he is upset by the way the management mavens and marketers are in control.

    Wilding cuts loose from campus with The Magic of It, his new novel of private investigator Keith Plant, hired by an Oxford academic to find the source of anonymous threats. Campus and what was once called the counterculture are Wilding’s turf (anyone old enough to remember the University of Sydney in the 70s and 80s will recall his radical rep and acute eye for the follies of academic and new-age orthodoxy, especially as they became the same thing).

    These blokes know their patch and, while no one will ever accuse them of being understated authors, their characters are types still recognisable on campus and in those borderlands between the worlds of politics and publishing, the media and university.

    Wilding and Fitzgerald are members of a surprisingly large tribe, novelists who find examples of the human comedy on university campuses and among people of an academic inclination. According to John Kramer’s anthology of collegiate fiction, at the turn of the century there were just shy of 650 American campus novels. And for a while the British made the genre their own, with David Lodge and Malcolm Bradbury making the sour Labour 70s and the dour Thatcher years something of a golden age for campus fiction.

    In 2004 Macquarie University’s Colin Symes also found a surprising number of ancestors for Fitzgerald and Wilding in Australia, including sometime vice-chancellor of Canberra University Don Aitkin, author of a 70s novel about the fight to fill a sociology chair (do they have them any more?).

    And 20 years on, Mary-Rose MacColl created a registrar working in a Dawkins university dealing with a sexual harassment case and the then new managerialism.

    But while these two sound serious, most novelists of academic life write, if not for laughs, then certainly satiric insight. Even the big writers on campus poke fun at the university enterprise. Saul Bellow’s Ravelstein stars a fading philosopher who unexpectedly writes a bestseller and responds to sudden wealth with undergraduate enthusiasm. In White Noise, Don DeLillo created Jack Gladney, creator of Hitler studies, despite not speaking German. And in Tom Wolfe’s creepy I Am Charlotte Simmons (a man in his 70s writing about the sex life of young women) the satire of undergraduate life at a rich party school drips with disdain.

    So if academic life is so awful, why does it fascinate writers and readers, most of whom, I suspect, recognise fiction as scenes from real life? Sally Dalton-Brown has an explanation: “The campus novel, as a satiric and comic genre, arguably belongs to that type of comedy called the comedy of degradation, which stresses the discovery of the base behind the lofty, of the paltry behind the great, of the ugly behind the beautiful and of the absurd behind the obvious.”

    Or maybe it occurs because academics are acute observers of everything, including their colleagues.

    The Australian, August 31, p 37.

  • Carl Harrison-Ford said:

    CARL HARRISON-FORD REVIEWS ‘FOOLS’ PARADISE:LIFE IN AN ALTERED STATE.

    By Ross Fitzgerald & Trevor Jordan (Arcadia / Press On, 233 pp, $24.95)

    It’s almost a quarter of a century since Grafton Everest — now Professor of Life Skills and Hospitality at the University of Mangoland — imposed himself on the reading public, and he’s still with us.

    More a hapless hero than an antihero, there’s a touch of Oblomov to his inertia, but he’s libidinous with it.

    He’s also rather porous, in that all the madnesses of the contemporary world seem to filter through him.

    In ‘Fools’ Paradise’ there’s a mad jumble of strange forces at work.

    The Right and the Left are on the warpath and fuelled by self-interest.

    Relationships with Mangoland’s nearest neighbours are fraught.

    Everest’s university is a saturated solution of political correctness and mendacity.

    His work as a social commentator brings him into contact with a range of hucksters, opportunists, media tarts and charismatic preachers and singers.

    The Secret Service (now privatised as Spyforce Australia) is run by his old high school teacher, who knows too much about everything.

    Mangoland is girding its loins for an election and for the Pan-Pac Games.

    And why does the ex Premier, Sir Otis Hoogstraden, want to pay Everest enormous amounts of money — in cash — to help write his memoirs?

    These are just some of the concerns that animate the fourth Grafton Everest book.

    Everything is crazy and extreme, yet somehow familiar. Seldom has the private been more political, or the political more private.

    Everest, perhaps unwittingly, seems the bewildered centre of a chaotic universe in this satire which progresses at the speed of light.

    “What’s a virtuous life now?” asks Everest’s daughter near the end of this novel. “In the twenty-first century.” She has been exposed to little of it.

    ‘Fools’ Paradise’ is Grafton Everest’s most over-the-top excursion — it has more sex than before, crazier politics, more pointless academic life, a tighter net of anxieties.

    Some might say the real world forced Ross Fitzgerald and Trevor Jordan’s hands.

    Carl Harrison-Ford

  • Avid Reader said:

    “Fools’ Paradise”
    Ross Fitzgerald and Trevor Jordan
    PB $24.95
    Avid Reader regular and West End stalwart Trevor Jordan has teamed up with veteran writer Ross Fitzgerald to bring us what Barry Humphries has called “a wonderful creation whom I would place without question in the ranks of Philip Roth’s Portnoy and Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim.”
    “Wake up, Australia,” Grafton Everest exhorts viewers every morning on Australia-wide breakfast television. This doesn’t please those he attacks like wily former premier Hoogstraden, whose biography Grafton is forced into writing. Grafton’s day job as Professor of LifeSkills and Hospitality is under threat from the economically and sexually rapacious Vice-Chancellor Deirdre Morrow. And Lee Horton, head of Australia’s newly privatised secret Service (trading as Spyforce Australia) is worried too. He knows that Grafton has trouble lying. And nothing is more dangerous than a man who habitually tells the truth.
    Brisbane Avid Reader newsletter.

  • Strewth said:

    Audacious TV

    FANS of Larry David and Austen Tayshus will be pleased to hear of a new project. Ross Fitzgerald, columnist with The Australian and co-author with Rick Murphy of the recent biography on Austen Tayshus (Sandy Gutman to his parents), ‘Merchant of Menace’, tells Strewth a pilot for a TV series based on the book is in the pipeline, starring the man many call the most controversial performer in Australia. “The show will be like Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm, partly scripted but much improvised,” Fitzgerald says. “Five minutes of each episode will involve Sandy seeing a real female therapist who specialises in treating children of Holocaust survivors.” The working title is Standup. Plans are also being made for Gutman to play the character Grafton Everest in a TV series based on Fitzgerald’s novels, co-authored with Trevor Jordan.

    Strewth, THE AUSTRALIAN September 28, 2011

  • Don Anderson said:

    EVEREST SCALES NEW HEIGHTS

    Excess and success are one and the same for this ranting anti-hero.

    “This is just the book to give to your sister – if she’s a loud, dirty, boozy girl.” wrote the Irish playwright and drunkard, Brendan Behan, of Irish novelist and fellow drunkard Flann O’Brien’s At Swim-Two-Birds (1939). The same might be said of Ross Fitzgerald and Trevor Jordan’s Fools’ Paradise (hereafter, ”Fitzgerald”, the joint authorship never being explained, though the two have co-authored A History of Alcohol in Australia).

    The hero, or anti-hero, or protagonist of this novel is one Grafton Everest, PhD, non-drinker and professor of life skills and hospitality at the University of Mangoland, and commentator (from bed) every morning on Australia-wide breakfast television.

    Fools’ Paradise begins benignly enough: ”’When you don’t sleep, you need a lot of rest,’ said Grafton Everest to his dog Tao.” But those who have followed Everest’s career – if that be the correct term for a life that has done little but career – since his first appearance in Fitzgerald’s 1986 novel, Pushed from the Wings, will not be deceived. That novel began: ”Grafton Everest examined his cock.” This sentence inflamed sisters less generous than those alluded to by Brendan Behan; indeed, it inflamed the whole sisterhood. Fitzgerald, not in the least abashed, began his second Everest novel: ”Grafton Everest examined his cock again.”

    ”Nothing succeeds like excess,” Oscar Wilde quipped, and that would seem to suit Fitzgerald’s satirical brush. That’s ”brush”, not ”blush”, for a blush would never mar Everest’s outraged and outrageous cheek.

    Fitzgerald quotes Gore Vidal as an epigraph to chapter four: ”The Establishment may be immune to satire but the meat axe gets their attention.” Chapter five’s epigraph is from Frank Dalby Davison: ”You need a skin as thin as a cigarette paper to write a novel and the hide of an elephant to publish it.” Those two quips get Everest, not to mention Fitzgerald, to a ”T”. One of Everest’s colleagues sums him up thus: ”I don’t know, Grafton. You’re confused, venal, you give in to all temptations, you’re slothful, and a little greedy, but at least you’re sincere. In this ravenous, moonlight state there is no room for sincere and honest people.”

    That is the ”moonlight state” of a couple of decades ago. Everest is embracing corruption to write a biography of former Mangoland premier Sir Otis Hoogstraden, who can only be the late Joh Bjelke-Petersen. Another prominent character is the eponymous founder of ”Marnie Miller’s Aussie Pride Party”, described thus: ”Asked what her policies were, the auburn-haired new-woman-on-the-block, dressed in a green Chanel suit, said, ‘I don’t know much about politics but I know what I like. People just can’t do the right thing to each other at the moment and there are too many deviant sexual practices coming into this country, along with infected fruit and vegetables.”’

    Like her perfume, Marnie is surely redolent of the younger, emerging Pauline Hanson. There is a smell of mothballs about Fools’ Paradise.

    Indeed, Everest is engaged in anti-feminist rants that seem distinctly to belong to an earlier decade. His vice-chancellor, a former, very former, girlfriend driven by Everest’s appalling male chauvinist-pig behaviour into sapphism, seems nothing so much as a mixture of Germaine Greer and Margret Roadknight, and who blackmails Everest into surrogate fatherhood with her, the v-c’s, girlfriend. Success in this venture will guarantee Everest’s department’s funding and viability. The plot may seem hysterical; it seems to resemble nothing so much as the path described in a trough of water by a lump of phosphorus.

    The most incisive summation of Everest’s character, or lack thereof, is proffered by his wife: ”Where shall I start? Gluttony! Indolence! Sloth! As Janet was carefully enumerating his academic incompetence, chronic torpor, pathetic child-like need for media exposure and chocolate, naive hydraulic attitude to sex and, most alarmingly, his barely budding tendency to what seemed to be corruption, his beeper blared.”

    Doubtless we have not heard the last of Everest. When the universities close down, perhaps he will, in forced retirement, emerge as the editor of Quadrant, for ranting is his forte.

    FOOLS’ PARADISE
    Ross Fitzgerald and Trevor Jordan
    Arcadia, 233pp, $24.95

    Spectrum, Sydney Morning Herald October 1 – 2,2011

  • Phil Brown said:

    VIEW FROM EVEREST.
    This prolific author brings back a controversial character to mock the state of our nation

    There has never been a better time for
    satire, according to author Ross Fitzgerald.
    The present parlous state of politics and
    education has inspired him to revive his
    satirical anti-hero Grafton Everest in a new literary
    romp, the novel ‘Fools’ Paradise’.

    It’s a rich farce set in Mangoland, in the north
    of Australia, a place that may, at times, seem to
    resemble Queensland.

    Ross, emeritus professor of history and politics,
    Griffith University, and a newspaper columnist,
    now lives in Sydney but spent some of his most
    productive writing years in Brisbane.

    It was here, for example, that he wrote his
    acclaimed two volume history of Queensland,
    one of which was pulped and reissued due to
    legal threats from the government of Sir Joh
    Bjelke-Petersen.

    In the midst of his histories and other more
    serious work (he has written 35 books in total),
    he introduced Grafton Everest in 1986 in a debut
    novel,’Pushed from the Wings’.

    Comedian Barry Humphries described
    protagonist Grafton Everest as “a wonderful
    creation whom I would place, without question, in
    the ranks of Philip Roth’s Portnoy and Kingsley
    Amis’s Lucky Jim.”

    ‘Fools’ Paradise’, the fourth Grafton Everest
    novel, was written in collaboration with retired
    Brisbane academic Trevor Jordan, an ethicist
    who also served as co-author with Ross on the
    book ‘Under the Influence: A History of Alcohol in
    Australia’ (ABC Books).

    “We had a lot of fun bouncing ideas off each
    other for the novel,” Ross says. “Especially as the
    absurdities of universities and politics provided us
    with plenty of juicy material.”

    Writing the new novel was a pleasant diversion
    after Ross finished his acclaimed memoir ‘My Name
    is Ross: An Alcoholic’s Journey’ (New South), which
    was published in 2010. “That was the hardest
    book I have written,” he says. “So writing the new
    Grafton Everest novel was a welcome relief.”

    Ross’s protagonist is professor of lifeskills and
    hospitality at the University of Mangoland. He
    also has his own breakfast TV show, ‘Wake Up
    Australia’, which he hosts daily from his bed.

    “Grafton is huge, greedy, indolent and lustful,”
    Ross says. “He’s what I could be if I let myself go.
    Mind you, he also has a habit of telling the truth
    and nothing is as dangerous as someone who
    always tells the truth.”

    Ross is also the co-author, with Rick Murphy, of
    the recently published ‘Austen Tayshus: Merchant
    of Menace’ (Hale & Iremonger), a biography of the
    well-known comedian who, he says, has shown an
    interest in playing Grafton Everest on the screen.
    “But he’d have to bulk up for that,” Ross says.
    “Grafton is huge, in more ways than one.”

    FOOLS’ PARADISE by Ross Fitzgerald &
    Trevor Jordan, Arcadia, $24.95

    Phil Brown, ‘Brisbane News’, Books, October 12-18, 2011

  • Fiona Patten said:

    Eros Reviews
    Fools’ Paradise Life In An Altered State
    Monday, 12 December 2011
    Ross Fitzgerald & Trevor Jordan, Fools’ Paradise Life In An Altered State (Arcadia:Melbourne, 2011, $24.95).

    I have not written a book review since I was in high school and even then I believe we were mainly asked to produce book reports.

    I was inspired to write a review of sorts of “Fools’ Paradise: life in an altered state” due to the looming Queensland election and the all singing all dancing Bob Katter Party.

    The book is set in Mangoland, where an ex football hero is premier who kept images of Wally Lewis and his smudged nose front and centre. There are big shoulder padded power-suits and SNAGs, remember them, the sensitive new age guys of the last century?

    I know one of the authors, Dr Ross Fitzgerald and it was totally impossible not to have his image playing in my head, as the central character Grafton Everest. Dr Ross is a tall, academic, teetotaller with a beautiful wife and intelligent daughter and so is Grafton.

    There are plenty of sex scenes featuring Grafton so with Dr Ross’s image imbedded in my mind I found them a bit disconcerting.

    The politics of the story are somewhat outlandish but so is Queensland politics. There are many characters you will recognize like Jo Bjelke Petersen, Pauline Hanson and even Flo.

    My favourite, the Gay Shooters party is probably one that might never take off in QLD. But then again who would have thought the Australian Sex Party would have garned the 4th most popular Senate vote in Australia? And that Queenslanders elected five One Nation politicians in one election. One who wore Mickey Mouse socks, tie, cufflinks tie clip, watch and proudly carried a matching briefcase.

    ‘Fools’ Paradise’ will be a great Xmas read and I found a number of items in the book to add to my Xmas wish-list such as a kookaburra alarm clock (please tell me they exist), a morning tv program filmed live from bed and five mini buses and three ex army personnel carriers filled with election day volunteers!

    I found myself laughing out loud at the madness of some of the characters and the events in this book. Noticing the frightening similarities with politics today, made me wonder if Dr Ross had a special political weegee board or something.

    Fiona Patten
    Executive Officer
    EROS FOUNDATION

  • Richard Laidlaw said:

    HECTOR’S DIARY Bali Advertiser March 21, 2012

    Mangoland Rules!

    There’s an election in the Australian state of Queensland on Saturday (March 24). This is a matter of decidedly finite importance to anyone outside Queensland – the north-eastern third of the Australian continent – unless they are former residents; or perhaps for readers of lately published satirical novels.

    Ross Fitzgerald, a professorial type well known to Hector – he’s also a frequent Bali sojourner and will be here again in June – has written a book, ‘Fools’ Paradise: Life in an Altered State’, which is about an election in the fictional state of Mangoland. For those who do not know, Queensland produces a lot of mangoes.

    Fitzgerald, who wrote the book with Trevor Jordan, is a historian and Mangoland aka Queensland is a rich field for anyone interested in examining the venalities of politics. It’s a readable yarn, except that – irritatingly – it uses discrete (meaning severally) for discreet (which among other things means don’t get caught). Never mind; this is after all the post-literate age.

    The book – dedicated thus, “For all the fools we have known, including ourselves” – is published by Arcadia, an imprint of Melbourne publisher Australian Scholarly Books. Fitzgerald has written several books, including ‘Under the Influence: A History of Alcohol in Australia.’

  • Ian McFadyen said:

    “Clueless in Mangoland”

    Review of ‘Fools’ Paradise: Life in an Altered State’ by Ross Fitzgerald and Trevor Jordan.
    Arcadia / Australian Scholarly Publishing, 238 pages, $24.95.

    The Australian humorous novel, once handsomely represented by the works of Lenny Lower and Barry Oakley, is an endangered species.

    While it has become de rigueur for television and radio comedians to pop out a light holiday read just in time for the Christmas sales, books that satirise Australian life on a wider or deeper scale are rare.

    One possible explanation is that, when you reach the point where Greens hold the balance of power and university lecturers have to calculate the carbon footprint of their courses, a literary form that relies principally on exaggeration can no longer compete with reality. One of the few authors still practising this increasingly quaint art is Ross Fitzgerald in his “Grafton Everest” series of novels.

    The latest, ‘Fools’ Paradise’, co-written with Trevor Jordan, continues the satirical narrative of Grafton’s adventures that began with ‘Pushed from the Wings’ in 1989.

    For those unacquainted with Professor Everest, he is the indolent, opportunistic and promiscuous Professor of LifeSkills and Hospitality at the University of Mangoland – a barely fictitious northern Australian state where academic life is indissolubly intertwined with politics at both campus and government levels.

    The lumbering, chocolate-addicted, wife-dominated, technophobic, hypochondriac Grafton, whose only declared ambition is to have no ambition, is a sort of academic Rumpole of the Bailey but without the skills. As Grafton himself observes, a “career” is an out-of-control journey downhill, which is an accurate description of his own rake’s progress.

    While the university faces inquiries, pending privatisation and possible refurbishment as a centre of Creation Science, Grafton delivers a breakfast television political commentary from the comfort of his bed, ducks faculty meetings, assists his mistress with staging a nude production of ‘Paradise Lost’ and delivers late-night homilies on a redneck radio station.

    Able to resist anything but temptation, Grafton is both a media and a sexual tart who finally gets in too deep when he agrees to ghost-write the biography of former right-wing Premier Otis Von Hoogstraden, while at the same time standing as a candidate for the Workers Party.

    In case it is not already obvious, these novels are not the Australian version of Oxbridge Blues: they are a Barry McKenzian view of Australian academic and political life populated by cartoonish, in some cases grotesque,caricatures.

    Apart from guessing which real-life people might be the bases for characters, the book’s main pleasures lie in the small gems of politically incorrect writing that stud the work. The towering LOAF (lesbian over the age of forty) vice-chancellor of the university is described as having an Adam’s apple that jutted like “a swallowed testicle”. Her LUG (lesbian until graduation) lover appears wearing a “wonder-bra which pushed her breasts together so spectacularly that they seemed to be attempting to get up her nose”. When Grafton complains of not feeling very well, his unsympathetic wife reminds him that “the pyramids were built by people who didn’t feel very well”.

    Such caricatures bring problems, however.

    Because the female characters seem to fall consistently into the categories of Motherly Carer, Deranged Political Radical or Easy Sex Partner, and the fact that much of the humour is based on the players being height-challenged, Asian, indigenous or gay, it is easy to dismiss Fitzgerald and Jordan’s satire as springing from assumptions of Anglo-white-male normality. But this would be a superficial assessment.

    First, Grafton is not in any way granted privileged status as a middle-aged white male. On the contrary, he is perhaps the most explicitly flawed character of all. Second, the reactions of a 1940s-born Australian male with ingrained allegiances to Australian rules and Menzian values, confronting a multicultural, equal-opportunity, postmodern, soccer-mad world is precisely what these books are about. Grafton’s very predicament is to be an ageing Aussie bloke confronted by social, political and intellectual changes, which he does not understand, and over which, most importantly, he has no control. His response to this powerlessness is to sink into a kind of resigned bewilderment. Yet, as his old teacher and mentor Lee Horton explains to him: “You are an optimist of sorts. For you, history is a thing of the past,the present is uncomfortable and the future is bleak; but somewhere two minutes away, or as long as it takes you to get to the snack machine, you are always full of expectation. You are a “two minute” optimist. Somehow I think that in this millennium there will be a lot more like you.”

    Grafton replies: “Well, you know what I say. One century at a time.”

    If there is a disappointment with ‘Fools’ Paradise’ it is that, though it sets itself in the twenty-first century, it presents a view of Queensland – sorry, Mangoland – more reminiscent of the eighties and nineties. The undiminished power of the Boerish former premier, the confluence of charismatic Christianity and capitalism, a sheepish Opposition leader and a capital city called Waynesville (it is not clear whether that’s from Goss or Swan) are all good cartoonish stuff but in a world of collapsing economies, minority governments and carbon trading, they seem leftovers from a time when Queensland – sorry, Mangoland, I keep doing that – was seen by the southern states as a kind of Wild West tourist boom town.

    My hope is, without giving away the ending of ‘Fools’ Paradise’, that the next book in the series sees Grafton move into the federal arena where the real jokes are waiting to be told.

    Ian McFadyen is an Australian writer and actor best known as the creator of The Comedy Company television series.

    Quadrant Magazine, July/August 2012

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