Published: Lightning Books (August 2019)
Ninety-nine reinterpretations of a classic Australian short story
The stunning follow-up from the author of the award-winning Their Brilliant Careers
Henry Lawson’s short story The Drover’s Wife is an Australian classic that has sparked interpretations on the page, on canvas and on the stage. But it has never been so thoroughly, or hilariously, reimagined as by Ryan O’Neill, remixing and revising Lawson’s masterpiece in 99 different ways.
The variations include a Year Eight essay, a pop song, a sporting commentary, an insurance claim, a Hollywood movie adaptation and even a cryptic crossword.
Inventive and unexpected, this is laugh-out-loud literature from one of Australia’s finest satirists.
OUT MAY 2019. AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER NOW
‘In his supercalifragilisticexpialidocious new book Ryan O’Neill does something stunningly original using Henry Lawson’s The Drover’s Wife – turning it into a bravura literary game. I have never read a work like this before. It is a perfect reference book and teaching aid for teachers and students of English by illustrating the rich variety of ways we play with and use the language. A cerebrally imaginative tour de force’
‘The book is imaginative, clever, experimental, adroit, self-reflexive and very funny. As you turn the pages, you wonder just what O'Neill will come up with next’
‘Pitch perfect… hilarious… Fellow writers in particular will enjoy O’Neill’s gift for literary karaoke… This is a book that begs to be read aloud. The reinterpretations are short, between one and three pages, and every one is entertaining. O’Neill is so adept at literary ventriloquism and at mastering multiple genres and forms’
‘Captivating, coruscating, brilliantly honed satire... With this new work, O’Neill brings something new and thoroughly engaging into the Australian literary scene. Read it slowly, bit by bit, because satire gobbled too fast can overwhelm the reader or dull the senses. But read it, and odds are you will, by turns, laugh and weep’
‘It’s a kind of satire of everything that's been done on the subject [of Henry Lawson’s The Drover’s Wife] in the past, and I think it’s brilliant. It’s hilarious… There’s so much literary criticism built into it, so much awareness of popular culture, so much wit and little jokes that come into into it, that I’m totally entranced’
Ryan O’Neill: Why I wrote 99 versions of Henry Lawson’s most famous story – Sydney Morning Herald interview.
Listen to a broadcast review by Australian literary critic and prize judge Susan Wyndham on ABC Radio Sydney. From 1'35.
Read an entertaining Q&A with Ryan O’Neill for the Australian Book Review