THOMAS KENEALLY : BRICKLAYING

THOMAS KENEALLY BUILDS HIS FINE NEW NOVEL FROM OLD TALES

Novelists reveal themselves as performers, or shamans, or unloved children, or observers of bugs through microscopes. The Australian writer Thomas Keneally is a builder, a gifted, painstaking maker of books. After 20 novels, including Schindler's List and A Victim of the Aurora, a reader imagines him rummaging through his barn for old beams and bricks stored years before and never used. Stories, perhaps, told by his grandparents, who were storekeepers in Australia's Macleay River Valley. He sorts the tales, considers which can still bear weight, begins to sketch a plan for A River Town (Doubleday; 324 pages; $24).

His hero will...

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