Home > Book Reviews > Book Review – T by Alan Fyfe

Book Review – T by Alan Fyfe

Alan Fyfe’s debut novel T is an endearing, off-beat, and ultimately moving caper. Set in and around Mandurah, Western Australia, the narrative punctures numerous stereotypes associated with the ‘drug hijinx’ genre, presenting T for the selfish fuck-up he is. Fyfe offers us an eclectic grab-bag of humorous characters and situations such as the ghost of dead Gulp, crank-addled Cardo and his obeisance to a certain notorious West Australian football player (“Jim Levy”), dead men falling from the sky, and yes, a Shetland pony. In this regard T recalls that zany masterwork A Confederacy of Dunces.

But there’s more to T than this. It’s also a hard-nosed drug narrative that shows us again and again the nature of addiction and the way it warps people’s ability to make sensible decisions. Any thought of a romantic (and redemptive) ending for T and his some-time girlfriend Lori-Bird is thus flushed down the toilet. T manages to avoid romanticizing drug use while humanising drug addicts in a manner not dissimilar to Junky.

And more: weaved into T is the story of the Binjareb people, of Thomas Peel and the misdeeds (and massacre) perpetrated by the British invaders. Fyfe tells this story obliquely and in fragments that work as a counterpoint to the main narrative. There’s a character, Old Stone, who meets T for a drug deal but becomes uneasy at the choice of meeting place. He says to T: “Thought you were a local, you should know, you should own up.” T replies: “Own up to what?” (p164).

This is a powerful book and, just as importantly, an original one.

Published by Transit Lounge, T is available in bookstores and from worthy online retailers.

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