Holden's Performance A Novel

Murray Bail




Trade Paperback

384 Pages



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Holden's Performance is the story of Holden Shadbolt, a guileless and matter-of-fact innocent as he passes through the cities and landscape of Australia. His reassuring silent presence and photographic memory make him useful to men of power and women who appear to need his protection. He is surrounded by larger than life figures whose exploits and adventures Holden follows—ex-Corporal Frank 'Bloodnut' McBee, the scrap dealer who woos his mother; his uncle Vern, a shortsighted proofreader who likes facts and eating newspaper with his breakfast cereal; and the crippled artist Harriet, whose twists and curves appeal to Holden as he holds to his own unswervingly straight lines.


Praise for Holden's Performance

"A work of dazzling imagination."—Independent

"Holden's Performance is a triumph."—The Australian

"Bail is a writer of great talent and extraordinary concentration."—Melbourne Age

"Astonishing in its range . . . superbly written, much of it is like the click of a camera shutter in its sharpness and impassivity . . . extraordinarily wide-ranging and inventive."—The Times on Sunday

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A lesson in geometry--the invasion of khaki--getting away with murder--a diet of grey matter--the view from the Hills--found objects--the usherette and the projectionist--the body development of Holden--McBee comes down to earth--the facts of life.

When the last of the city's trams were removed with their poles and bells and the industrial paraphernalia of lines imposed on the mind's eye, it was as though a great net had been lifted clear of the city, letting in light. The trams had been inflicting all kinds of untold damage, running amok at will. Anyone

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  • Murray Bail

  • Murray Bail was born in Adelaide, Australia, in 1941. His novels—Eucalyptus, Homesickness, and Holden’s Performance—have been prizewinners in Australia; Eucalyptus also won the Commonwealth Writers Prize. He lives in Syndey.
  • Murray Bail Copyright Anthony Browell