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David Ireland: The Flesheaters

A strange book, devoid of any real plot. It is the story of Merry Lands, a home for society’s marginals – the mentally ill who are probably not really mentally ill, the chronically poor, the outcast. There are three main characters – Clayton Emmet, who arrives at Merry Lands at the beginning of the novel, O’Grady, who manages Merry Lands, and the shadowy narrator. But most of the novel is concerned with vignettes of the strange denizens of Merry Lands and how they interrelate with Emmet and O’Grady (our shadowy narrator is mainly, though not entirely, an observer). The intent is clear – Merry Lands stands for, what?, Sydney? (where it is located), Australia?, the world? Wherever, it is clear that the madhouse is not just confined to Merry Lands. As this is David Ireland, we get satire, at times brutal, pity for the industrial victims and, of course, the inevitable and unpleasant apocalyptic ending.

Publishing history

First published 1962 by Angus and Robertson