The Pages, By Murray Bail

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The Independent Culture

In his 1998 novel Eucalytpus, Murray Bail argued that writers spend less time on "applied psychology" and more on "story-telling." Here, his main characters, two women in their forties, embark on a road journey and a long bout of therapeutic chit-chat.

Erica, a serious-minded academic, has been asked to travel to a remote sheep farm in New South Wales to sort out the posthumous papers of a fellow philosopher. Sophie, a flakey psychoanalyst, unaware that her friend is having an affair with her father, sits in the passenger seat doing her nails.

While the narrative can border on cryptic, Bail's appreciation of the natural world as viewed from the window is unflaggingly concrete. Although suspicious of "the rusty traps set by ideas of a National Landscape'", bad weather - of either the psychic or metereological variety - is this particular author's forte.