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This review is taken from PN Review 55, Volume 13 Number 5, May - June 1987.

OTHERWORLDS C. J. Koch, The Doubleman (Chatto & Windus) £8.95
Blanche d'Alpuget, Winter in Jerusalem (Seeker & Warburg) £9.95
Jack Lindsay, The Blood Vote (University of Queensland Press) £13.50, £7.25 pb.
Kate Grenville, Bearded Ladies (University of Queensland Press) £9.95, £5.95 pb.

There is much in Christopher Koch's imagination that remains ill-accommodated in our times, and in The Double-man the logic of his persuasions has brought him to a head-on confrontation with the shadowland of the Other, a confrontation that is played out with almost medieval ferocity. Narrator Richard Miller, of mixed Catholic and Protestant descent, grows up under the thumb of the Christian Brothers in Hobart, where the central events of his childhood are an attack of polio that leaves him lamed, fascination with the theatre and with Titania the Queen, and the twin enthralment of weird doubleman Broderick and Miller's white goddess Deirdre Dillon. The narrative moves several years to Miller's own move, from Tasmania to Sydney, and his broadcasting career there. He finds his feet as a radio producer and, living in a Sydney Kings Cross which Koch evokes wonderfully, marries an Estonian refugee, Katrin (whose background is not unlike that of Ilsa in Across the Sea Wall).

It is the 1960s, and two Tasmanian friends - his cousin Brian Brady, and Darcy Burr - re-enter Miller's life intent on forming a somewhat occult folk-singing act for a television show. Katrin joins the act as singer; Deirdre Dillon offers her stepson Patrick as drummer; and Thomas and the Rhymers are a great success. But increasingly the driving power in Darcy Burr comes to seem perverse and indeed satanic, and the quest for a dreamworld becomes an over-reaching threat to ordinary human contentment. A proposed transfer to ...


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