Posted by: Lisa Hill | July 12, 2020

Black Rabbit, by Angus Gaunt

It was good fun to read this satirical romp by Angus Gaunt.  Black Rabbit is the story of a self-made man whose life unravels, and in the process he earns a kind of redemption.

The story begins at Aunt Patricia’s funeral, where her nieces and nephew Maurice are, not without relief, performing the last of their duties towards someone who meant very little to them.  They had paid dutiful visits to her and hosted her at dutiful lunches, dutifully waiting for her to die so that they could finally collect on their inheritance, i.e. their grandmother’s house.  (Their grandmother’s Will had made provision for Aunt Patricia to live there for the rest of her life.)

However, there at the funeral, and in the chief mourner’s car no less, is a strange and unprepossessing man that none of them know.  He turns out to be Sandford, and he claims to be a friend of Aunt Patricia’s, who, they thought, had no friends.  Sandford has an odd air of entitlement which deflects questions and leads people to do what he wants, even when it’s not at all reasonable.  Maurice, who works in the finance industry and has all that goes with it including trophy wife and child, has a sense of entitlement too.  But it’s his idle curiosity about Sandford that leads — fatally — to driving this stranger home, having a cup of awful coffee in his depressing flat, and making the acquaintance of Sandford’s rabbit.

It is this rabbit which leads on to Maurice’s entanglement in a bizarre state of affairs.  Sandford disappears, leaving instructions that Maurice is to look after the rabbit.  Since he is ‘between jobs’ at the time, he acquiesces to this.  At the same time, Maurice’s wife gives him his marching orders, and so off he goes to live in Aunt Patricia’s house, fully expecting his wife ‘to come to her senses’.  In the meantime, he takes up again with his lover, only to discover that now that they have unlimited opportunities to see one other, that they have no interest in one other, except for the obvious. At the conclusion of a woeful night, Maurice comes home to find that Sandford is in residence at Aunt Patricia’s, and is asking awkward questions about the disappearance of the goods he had stored in her spare room.

The plot moves on from one absurdity to another, punctuated by a startling development about half way through, which is signalled by a change of narration from first to third person.  But as the story progresses, the reader sees a change in Maurice.  Living in a different part of Sydney, and walking everywhere because it’s so hard to find a parking spot for the Audi, he begins to take notice of the people around him.  He has flashes of understanding the point of view of other people. He learns a bit about Aunt Patricia too, not least the surprising way in which she first met Sandford.

The denouement takes place at a dinner party where Maurice is (literally) unmasked and all hell breaks loose.

Sydney readers may know the author as the proprietor of Sappho Books in Glebe. You can find out more about him at his website.

Author: Angus Gaunt
Title:  Black Rabbit
Cover art by Emily Hunt
Publisher: Ginninderra Press, 2020
ISBN: 9781760419011, pbk., 187 pages
Review copy courtesy of Ginninderra Press

 


Responses

  1. Hadn’t heard of this or the author, but it sounds marvellous fun in an almost Sparkian way! :D

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    • I think most Aussies won’t have heard of him yet either… he’s had some highly regarded short stories published, but this is his first novel. He reminds me a bit of Wayne Macauley who writes spiky satires of social issues, but his style is different.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks, Lisa. I’ll look out for this one.

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    • He’s from NSW so he might even be able to have a launch!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I’ve just bought a copy :-)

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        • Readily available?

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          • I bought an electronic copy because I am impatient. I’ll recommend that the library buy a copy as well.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. You read all my reviews and always comment. How do you do it? I’m feeling grumpy this morning, not for any reason, but … satire, Sydney … not for me.

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    • Actually, you would love it. LOL It would appeal to your sense of schadenfreude (did I spell that correctly?)

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      • PS Only people in Melbourne are allowed to be grumpy…

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        • I’m a Melbournian by proxy for the next 2 weeks.

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          • What, you mean you’re stuck here?

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            • No. I’m being treated as a Melbournian by the WA government. Interestingly, the rules in SA were mis-explained to me by the police. The strictest rules apply oly to drivers whose home base is Melb, and not to drivers who have just passed through.

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              • Who could blame the police, the way the rules are different everywhere. I understand why they have to be, and why they keep changing but — sheesh — it’s not easy for anybody.
                Anyway, welcome to being an honorary member of the pariah state!
                (Yesterday’s publicity newsletter from the lovely people at Wakefield Press had a message about the social media abuse that’s being piled on us, they call it out. Hating Victorians is ok for the footy, they say, but not for anything else. I was surprisingly touched by this, and emailed them to thank them.)

                Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks to your review, I started reading Black Rabbit this morning, and couldn’t put it down until I’d finished it. Totally engrossing and brilliantly written.

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    • It’s clever, isn’t it?! Now you understand how cagey I’ve been in my review so as not to give out any spoilers!!

      Like

  5. […] Angus Gaunt via Meet an Aussie Author.  You will remember Angus… I reviewed his debut novel Black Rabbit just a little while ago.  He lives on the very northern edge of Sydney with his partner and […]

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