Britain had some whack ideas. Remember that time they colonized an entire continent with convicts? That was whack.
Gould’s Book of Fish is the epistolary adventure of William Gould, a convict imprisoned on Sarah Island. Somewhere along the way he picked up enough painting skills to become an artist, and he starts painting fish for the island’s science-and-status–obsessed Surgeon instead of working on the chain gang.
I enjoy books ( The Luminaries comes to mind) set in this frontier period of the colonization of Australia and New Zealand. Like The Luminaries, this book has a somewhat pretentious structure and style as Flanagan attempts to use Billy Gould to plumb the depths of human suffering and soul-searching. Each chapter is headlined by a particular fish from this book that Gould is working on, and the fish becomes a metaphor for the philosophical ramblings of that instalment in Gould’s life.
Basically this book is an account of Gould’s suffering on Sarah Island, and of the…