‘Last Day in the Dynamite Factory’ by Annah Faulkner


2015, 321 p

I gave this book 120 pages before putting it aside.   I found the main character, conservation architect Christopher Bright self-absorbed, and just didn’t care enough for his existential crisis over his birth father to continue.  The book is written in present tense, with many, many flashbacks of dubious significance, and I found the handling of tense switches awkward.   Do all books have so many small editorial errors or was  it just that I wasn’t enjoying it?  Add to this the  many descriptions of food and appearance: all these things are warning signs that this book is not for me.

I find that many of the books I abandon or finish resentfully are set in recent or current-day Australia, and it’s possible that I’m rejecting current-day obsessions as much as the books themselves.  But I found that I just didn’t buy sufficiently into the secret and deceptions that lay at the heart of Christopher’s emotional pain, and there are too many other books that I want to read.  I have obviously bailed out before the title became explanatory, and I see from the acknowledgments at the end that the plot obviously moved beyond the beachhouse in Coolum and the Queensland bungalow and affluent angst. This particular reader, however, hasn’t been engaged enough to go along for the ride.

5 responses to “‘Last Day in the Dynamite Factory’ by Annah Faulkner

  1. I find myself rejecting many of the novels set in current American society, and I have also wondered if my response was linked to much I reject in the society itself. Especially after reading more global and post-colonial books, I find the settings and problems a bit trite and the characters too privileged.

  2. Snap, and double snap! I am reading this very book at the moment (p.158) and I hear what you are saying. What a lot of Australian writers and their publishers don’t seem to understand is just how banal these preoccupations are. I mean, obsessing about your birth father when thousands of children who were orphaned by that Tsunami will never know who anyone in their family was? Another one I read was the angst-ridden experience of a family migration from the UK in the 1950s – when there are refugees living right here in Australia right now who have fled the most horrific experiences?? Do these otherwise good and talented authors not know about the rest of the world? Or do they not care?
    Maybe it’s a case of simply catering for a market that has values that I can’t share. Tim Costello, in this week’s Australian magazine, is distressed by the fact that Australians have ‘bought the idea’ that they are ‘doing it tough’, an idea marketed by cynical politicians that conflicts with the fact that we are the third-wealthiest country per capita in the world. When you read novels like these you suspect that there are people in our society who simply don’t realise how inane their ‘issues’ are, compared to what others live through.
    However, I haven’t given up hope that Annah Faulkner will have her character realise this… her last novel was set in PNG so she knows a bit about the real world.

  3. Good on you for chucking it in, and for taking the trouble to pen a warning. My pet hate is writers trying too hard to be literary, but that’s an argument for another day.

  4. Pingback: Last Day in the Dynamite Factory, by Annah Faulkner | ANZ LitLovers LitBlog

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