My Secret Beer Garden

For good reason, Mandy Sayer has rarely strayed from the maxim "write about what you know." Her vagabond life has been the mother lode of her prose. In Dreamtime Alice, the memoir of her early adulthood, readers discovered where some of her fictional fringe dwellers came from. Velocity (Vintage; 302 pages), a gritty prequel to that celebrated work, provides even more clues to the source of Sayer's creativity. Out of her childhood - from a bizarre conception in May 1962 to the end of her erratic schooldays in 1979 - Sayer has spun an Australian booze opera about the end of...

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