The Tax Inspector

Overview

Granny Catchprice runs her family business (and her family) with senility, cunning, and a handbag full of explosives. Her daughter Cathy would rather be singing Country & Western than selling cars, while Benny Catchprice, sixteen and seriously psychopathic, wants to transform a failing auto franchise into an empire—and himself into an angel. Out of the confrontation between the Catchprices and their unwitting nemesis, a beautiful and very pregnant agent of the Australian Taxation Office, Peter Carey, author ...
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The Tax Inspector

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Overview

Granny Catchprice runs her family business (and her family) with senility, cunning, and a handbag full of explosives. Her daughter Cathy would rather be singing Country & Western than selling cars, while Benny Catchprice, sixteen and seriously psychopathic, wants to transform a failing auto franchise into an empire—and himself into an angel. Out of the confrontation between the Catchprices and their unwitting nemesis, a beautiful and very pregnant agent of the Australian Taxation Office, Peter Carey, author of Oscar and Lucinda, creates an endlessly surprising and fearfully convincing novel.

A combustibly funny, harrowing and utterly original novel from the internationally acclaimed, Booker Prize-winning author of Oscar and Lucinda. Granny Catchprice runs her family business--and her family--with senility, cunning, and a handbag full of explosives. But a very pregnant agent of the Australian Taxation Office turns the family upside down in this darkly comic masterpiece.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Fascinating and refreshing...brilliant." —San Francisco Chronicle

"Glorious entertainment, storytelling at its best, a piece of richly comic invention...mesmerizing." —Boston Globe

"[Carey's] work has a wild, chance-taking quality that seems to put him in harmony with the spirit of this age. If he keeps on as he has, he will prove to be one of its finest novelists." —Chicago Tribune

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Carey tale about a family of bizarre misfits who run a scruffy auto dealership in a suburb of Sydney. Jan.
Library Journal
The Catchprices of suburban Sydney, Australia are a family in disarray. Their lives are centered around an auto dealership on the verge of collapse despite their fiddling with the books. No one but 16-year-old Benny really cares, and Benny is a psychotic living in a dingy cellar to avoid his father, a one-time child molester. Benny is determined to transform himself, via an expensive set of motivational tapes, a fancy new suit, and use of a depilatory, into the world's greatest car salesman and thus to save the business. His vision, however, is threatened by the arrival of tax inspector Maria Takis, so he sets out in his own warped way to induce her to drop the investigation. This is more than just Benny's story, however. It concerns an entire family coming apart at the seams, plagued by its own history and the frustration of unfulfilled dreams. Carey's greatest strength lies in his characterizations, in his ability to expose the complexity of human experience and see the victim within the victimizer. Disturbing yet alluring, this is highly recommended for collections of serious fiction.-- David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.
Edmund White
"Peter Carey has an approach to the novel destined to make him one of the most widely read and admired writers working in English." -- Times Literary Supplement (London)
Christopher Lehmann-Haupt
"Charmingly cany...touchingly human. One can't help being impressed by Mr. Carey's unusual blend of violent humor, which never quite turns black but certainly passes through every shade of grey, shot through with brilliant splashes of psychedelic pink and chartreuse." -- New York Times
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679735984
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/28/1993
  • Series: Vintage International Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 5.19 (w) x 7.96 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author

Peter Carey
Peter Carey was born in Australia and now lives in New York.  His internationally acclaimed novel, Oscar and Lucinda, won the Booker Prize in 1988.

--

From the Hardcover edition.

Biography

"My fictional project has always been the invention or discovery of my own country," the prizewinning Australian author Peter Carey has said. This postcolonial undertaking has sometimes led Carey to wrestle with the great works of English literature: The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith (1994) draws on Laurence Sterne's Tristram Shandy, while in Jack Maggs (1997), a version of Dickens's Great Expectations, is told from the perspective of the convict who returns to England from Australia.

But although Carey went to what he calls "a particularly posh" Australian boarding school, he claims he didn't discover literature until he was out of school. He studied chemistry at Monash University for just a year before leaving to work in advertising. There, surrounded by readers and would-be writers, he discovered the great literature of the 20th century, including authors like Joyce, Faulkner and Beckett. "To read Faulkner for the first time was for me like discovering another planet," Carey said in an interview with The Guardian. "The pleasure of that language, the politics of giving voice to the voiceless."

Publishers rejected Carey's first three novels, so he began writing short stories. These, he later said, "felt like the first authentic things I had done." He was still working for an advertising agency when his first collection of short stories appeared in 1973, and he kept the part-time job after moving to an "alternative community" in Queensland. His first published novel, Bliss (1981), won a prestigious Australian literary prize, the Miles Franklin Award. The book is about an advertising executive who has a near-death experience and ends up living in a rural commune.

Carey's later novels ranged farther outside the bounds of his own experience, but he continued to develop his concern with Australian identity. 1988's Oscar and Lucinda, which tells the story of a colonial Australian heiress and her ill-fated love for an English clergyman, won the Booker Prize and helped establish Carey as one of the literary heavyweights of his generation. He won another Booker Prize for True History of the Kelly Gang (2000), the story of a notorious 19th-century outlaw whose legacy still shapes Australia's consciousness.

Though Carey now lives and teaches in New York City, his home country and its past still possess his imagination. ''History,'' he writes, ''is like a bloodstain that keeps on showing on the wall no matter how many new owners take possession, no matter how many times we paint over it.''

Good To Know

Peter Carey and J. M. Coetzee are the only two-time Booker Prize winners to date.

Carey caused a stir in the British press when he declined an invitation to meet Queen Elizabeth II. The royal invitation is extended to all winners of the Commonwealth Writers Prize, which Carey received in 1998 for Jack Maggs. He did meet the Queen after he won the award a second time, for True History of the Kelly Gang in 2001.

Fans of Carey's work know that in 1997, Oscar and Lucinda was made into a critically acclaimed movie starring Ralph Fiennes and Cate Blanchett. But they may not know that Carey wrote the screenplay for the critically panned Wim Wenders film Until the End of the World (1991) as well as the screenplay adaptation of his own novel, Bliss (1991).

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    1. Also Known As:
      Peter Philip Carey
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 7, 1943
    2. Place of Birth:
      Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, Australia
    1. Education:
      Monash University (no degree)
    2. Website:

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