You can almost smell the fear and paranoia in this elegantly crafted depiction of modern life, love and career. Peter Barry has lived up to and exceeded the promise of his darkly comic first novel, I Hate Martin Amis et al.
Must Read. Verdict: ****
Danielle Roller, Sunday Herald Sun 20 May 2012.
In his brilliant debut, I Hate Martin Amis et al., Peter Barry challenged the literati and questioned what makes fiction literary. In his latest novel, We All Fall Down, he takes on modern society and the family unit, constructing a powerful family drama that questions the very fabric of contemporary Australia. Hugh Drysdale and his wife, Kate, are living the Australian dream. They have bought their own beautiful home and have an adorable infant son to keep them busy. Hugh works for a successful advertising agency and Kate looks after their young son. But when one of Hugh’s colleagues and closest friends is made redundant, Hugh fears for his own job security and the cracks begin to appear in his perfect life. The Drysdales are, in fact, up to the eyeballs. They’re a typical middle-class family living week to week, trying to make mortgage and credit card payments they simply cannot afford in order to sustain a standard of living to which they believe they are entitled. This is a grim but powerful read from a major emerging voice in Australian literature.
Angela E Andrewes, The Big Issue 19 June – 2 July 2012.
Not since Elliot Perlman’s Three Dollars have the effects of economic rationalism been so comprehensively tracked. For a protagonist whose self-worth and identity are linked to his high-paying job. Hugh’s emotional fallout is particularly acute. His downward spiral is explored in Barry’s precise, measured prose that’s littered with evocative metaphors. (He describes a face as ‘broken up and obscure as an impressionist painting’) Anyone who has ever been beholden to a recalcitrant boss and bank manager will sympathise with this increasingly overwrought salaryman.
Thuy On, The Saturday Age 19 May 2012
If it only seems like yesterday that a Peter Barry book found its way onto bookshelves, then that’s because it was just last year that his debut novel, I Hate Martin Amis Et Al, was released. Which is why it’s so surprising to see that he has already released a second book. Not only is it good, but it’s also better that his first. In many ways more assured, Barry’s latest work is set in Sydney and centres on a couple, Kate and Hugh Drysdale. They are battling the financial burden of buying their first house and attempting to stay afloat in a workforce that is becoming increasingly cutthroat and vicious. Hugh, the breadwinner, gets even more on his plate when a new creative director from the UK joins the advertising agency where he works. The newcomer adds even more uncertainty to a company that has made some of its best staff redundant.
Where I Hate Martin Amis Et Al covered a huge range of topics, We All Fall Down succeeds in its narrower focus, giving Barry the full scope to explore both his characters and the times we are living in. I can’t wait to see what he writes next.****
Mitchell Jordan, Good Reading, July 2012