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Praise is an utterly frank and darkly humorous novel about being young in the Australia of the 1990s. A time when the dole was easier to get than a job, when heroin was better known than ecstasy, and when ambition was the dirtiest of words. A time when, for two hopeless souls, sex and dependence were the only lifelines.
'McGahan's book is a bracing slap in the face to conventional platitudes and hypocrisies.' - The Australian
'Praise is one of those books that takes a hefty bite out of a piece of subject matter, chews it to a pulp and then spits it out.' - Peter Craven
'A tour de force... revelation of life in the slow lane of drugs and sex and alcohol.' - The Weekend Australian
Winner of The Australian/Vogel Literary Award and the Commonwealth Writers' Prize for Best First Book in the Pacific Region. Shortlisted for the Victorian Premier's Literary Award, the Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature and the Canada-Australia Literary Award.
told me anything. I was gonna go to work tomorrow. And you’ve quit?’ ‘It seemed a good time.’ ‘We’ve gotta celebrate this. You got anything to drink?’ ‘A six pack. I’m on the first now.’ ‘Okay. I’ve got some wine. I’m on my way.’ ‘Morris, you realise I didn’t quit for your sake.’ ‘C’mon, I know you, it was solidarity. It was a protest. So what’re you gonna do now?’ ‘Nothing. Not for a while anyway.’ I hung up and rolled a cigarette and turned on the television. I could hear voices arguing
have been different people, but they looked the same. They stared at me. I stared back. I was feeling confident this time. I was beginning to understand the way things worked. I joined one of the queues and made it to the counter. It was the same woman as before. There was no chance of her remembering me. I’d read somewhere that this particular office was one of the busiest in the state. ‘I have an appointment,’ I said, handing over the card. She looked at it. ‘You’ve got the forms?’ I handed
that way. I needed to roll around. After a while I’d pry her arms off and push her away. She’d come back, time and time again through the night. She had nighmares. I woke up one night to find her moaning in her sleep, terrified. ‘Cynthia? Wake up. What’s wrong?’ ‘Gordon?’ She was still asleep. She reached for me. ‘I’m here.’ She grabbed me, held on. ‘Gordon,’ she sighed. Her breathing relaxed. Her face was jammed up hot against mine, still sleeping. A little girl face. And my name, just my
beer back there as well, a four litre cask of wine, a bottle of bourbon, some Coca-Cola and four tabs of acid. It seemed like enough. By the time we finally made it to the beachhouse it was twenty minutes to midnight. The first person I met walking in was Rachel. She was drunk. ‘Gordon!’ she screamed. ‘Where’ve you been?’ ‘Delayed.’ ‘I’m drunk.’ ‘I can tell.’ ‘I’m so fucking drunk.’ ‘How’s the party going?’ ‘Oh it’s going just great.’ There were maybe forty or fifty people there. Some
little closer. Then we slept. THREE Cynthia woke me late next morning. ‘What’s wrong with your breathing? You sound like you’re about to suffocate.’ I sat up and started coughing. The hangover moved in. ‘It’s asthma,’ I told her. I reached for my jeans and went through the pockets for the Ventolin inhaler. She watched me puff away on it, sucking in the drug. ‘And you smoke?’ I smoked. In fact I had only started smoking about a year before. I was living in the Northern Territory. It was the