It is no exaggeration to say that Miles Allinson In the Land of the Moon perhaps one of the most anticipated novels of the year. This is the sequel to Allinson’s first novel Animal fever, which won the Victorian Premier’s Unpublished Manuscript Award in 2015. It was a novel of heartbreaking, painting and existentialism and permeating Melbourne’s unique reflective and artistic sensibility.
With In the Land of the Moon, Allinson followed his much-talked-about debut with a history of estrangement and family entanglement. The story follows Joe, Vincent’s son, who at the opening of the novel commits suicide and leaves behind his newborn granddaughter Sylvie, his ex-wife and a story about a trip to India in 1978. As Joe begins to ask questions about his father’s mysterious life, we learn that Vincent has joined the cult of Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh. Entering a world of paranoia and intrigue, with a piercing critique of contemporary Western society at heart, we engage in a touching story that changes perspective and puts the tenderness of friendship and post-apocalyptic dystopia into focus. line with Rajneesh’s review.
Like with Animal fever, a metafictional and metaphysical detective story in which an eponymous character follows in the footsteps of a fictional Romanian surrealist. Surrealism also has its place in In the Land of the Moon, especially in the twists and turns of a lyrical story that dares to imagine for its characters a past that was more than a dream of a summer of love and a future where the bonds of human tenderness strengthen its human inhabitants against a hostile setting,
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In this direction, In the Land of the Moon is not only an original sequel to a clever and innovative first novel… It is also a deep meditation on the zeitgeist which is still felt by the Melburnian hipsters with whom the work of Allinson is so sympathetic. Allinson has chosen a threatening and pathetic subject which sketches a number of sets with art.
I once saw Allinson speak at a series of events hosted by writers at the State Library of Victoria. Allinson has a memorable face and an engaging way of speaking. He is sensitive about herself and both careful and generous when he talks about the effect his writing routines have on the people around him. During Allinson’s talk and the brief exchange we had afterwards, Allinson reflected on two things that reminded me as I read In the Land of the Moon. The first thing was Allinson’s observation that by applying for grants a novelist makes his work appear as large as possible, but by writing at a manageable scale he must make it smaller. Since this was a consideration, In the Land of the Moon is not only beautifully and fluently written, but punctuated by expertise and subtlety.
The second observation was Allinson’s melancholy commentary on the limits of being a writer. That means not being fully present with the people around you all the time, Allinson said with a bit of nostalgia. This observation, I thought at the time, was the mark of an empathetic person capable of piercing artistic insight. In the Land of the Moon polishes this idea to a gem-like quality, and lingers, beautifully, after its plot disappears.
In the Land of the Moon by Miles Allinson
Publisher: Scribe Publications
Pages: 256 pages
Publication date: August 31, 2021
List price: $ 29.99