Saturday, January 30, 2010
In Search of the Holden Piazza
So here is the first of my promised reviews of Australian books that are available to American readers. I’ve checked, and In Search of the Holden Piazza by Chris Warr and Joe Kremzer is for sale from that very large online shop that is named after a very large river.
It’s about an obscure Aussie car, or maybe it’s about two blokes’ search for owners of an obscure Aussie car, or it’s about a game show, or it’s about a road trip with two blokes or it’s just about beer.
Whatever it’s about, I really enjoyed it. I am neither a car buff nor a beer drinker, but I found the story funny. Two friends are drinking beer, of course, when they decide to go in search of one of Australia’s most maligned vehicles. They both remembered the Holden Piazza being a shiny, seductive prize on Australia’s richest game show, the Sale of the Century. As impressionable young boys, they had been unable to forget the awe of its sleek bonnet or the assistant Alyce Platt’s charms. Twenty years later, they attempt to track down as many examples as they can of the original 300 models in Australia.
Locating and driving 21,000 km in one of the most unreliable cars in Aussie history is a feat in itself, without compounding the situation with a complete lack of mechanical knowledge or planning. By their own admission, ‘ if the word ‘half-arsedness’ ever makes into the Macquarie Dictionary the definition will simply feature a picture of’ them.
For American readers there is a handy map of Australia inside the front cover so you can follow Alyce’s (they named the car after the assistant, of course) progress. Many references to Australian culture (and I know there’s debate as to its very existence), sport, food, beer, music and geography make this an interesting read. Some ideas might be baffling but amusing, and I’m sure there’s a lot here to enlighten. For example, after regular references to big things a reader would eventually realize that Aussies like to use large volumes of fiberglass and concrete to create attractions in otherwise attraction-less locations. Personally I am quite proud of living near a big fruit, even though it doesn’t get a mention in the book.
For public servants with no discernible writing experience they have done a good job. I love their snappy, witty style. The plot did drag a bit towards the end; another accommodation, another Piazza owner, another night drinking beer. But, like a quirky car, I am willing to take the good with the not so good.
I do think it’s worth a read, even if you don’t drink beer.