Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Fredy Neptune

Fredy Neptune

A Novel In Verse

Les Murray

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



A riveting, beautiful novel in verse by Australia's greatest contemporary poet, winner of the 1996 T. S. Eliot Prize.

I never learned the old top ropes,
I was always in steam.
Less capstan, less climbing,
more re-stowing cargo.
Which could be hard and slow
as farming- but to say

Why this is Valparaiso!

Or: I'm in Singapore and know my way about
takes a long time to get stale
.-from Book I, "The Middle Sea"

When German-Australian sailor Friedrich "Fredy" Boettcher is shanghaied aboard a German Navy battleship at the outbreak of World War I, the sight of frenzied mobs burning Armenian women to death in Turkey causes him, through moral shock, to lose his sense of touch. This mysterious disability, which he knows he must hide, is both protection and curse, as he orbits the high horror and low humor of a catastrophic age.Told in a blue-collar English that regains freshness by eschewing the mind-set of literary language, Fredy's picaresque life-as, perhaps, the only Nordic Superman ever-is deep-dyed in layers of irony and attains a mind-inverting resolution.


Praise for Fredy Neptune

“Murray's way with language and imagery is thrilling. . . . He has given his protagonist a biting plebeian voice, a vernacular that soars.” —Richard Eder, The New York Times

“Working-class lyricism undiminished in two hundred and fifty-three pages. . . . You can rely on the unexpected to keep happening here, and always to be exhilarating.” —Anne Stringfield, The New Yorker

“Highly charged in ideas as in language, Fredy Neptune may jump from sin to salvation and from Suez to Sydney in a single stanza, but it is no novelty act. Neither archer nor centaur, it is a novel. And a ripping good yarn.” —Jonathan Levi, Los Angeles Times

“Murray's best work yet. . . . [His] strong plot, clear scenes, and memorable characters control his poem: his style serves them, not the other way around.” —Steven Burt, The Village Voice

“Fredy Neptune will give pleasure to any reader who delights in this poet's genius for finding the right turn of phrase, the illuminating metaphor, the vivid rendering of sensory experience. The book also makes history palpable and believable.” —Richard Tillinghast, The Washington Times

“This is a haunting, loving, fiercely democratic epic by a master poet.” —Ruth Padel, The New York Times Book Review

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Les Murray

Les Murray lives in his native Bunyah, New South Wales. His books include The Rabbiter's Bounty: Collected Poems (FSG, 1991), Translations from the Natural World (FSG, 1994), and Subhuman Redneck Poems (FSG, 1997).

Les Murray

Copyright Peter Solness

From the Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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