The Patron Saint of Eels

Just finished Greg Day’s first novel The Patron Saint of Eeels (Picador) and really enjoyed it; a kind of fable perhaps, and a bit zen and the art of eel management, but I liked the setting and the natural descriptions most. This from the AGE>>

A sick river becomes a metaphor for development in Gregory Day’s new book.

Gregory Day wasn’t around the night the eels invaded the ditches, but he heard all about it when he got back to his little town on the Great Ocean Road. How these weirdest of water creatures all streamed out of the river into the gullies. How they were practically underfoot. How they made such an unnerving racket thrashing about in the muddy water.

‘My father told me about it,’ says Day. ‘Everyone told me about it. Everyone reverted to talking about eels . . . nobody knew what was going on.’

It was a story to haunt a storyteller and it stayed with Day for several years. Two years ago, he started to write the novel that would become The Patron Saint of Eels, a muddy fable inspired by that freakish night.

‘It was a slushy sound,’ Day writes in his opening chapter, ‘the sound of moving water that you might expect to hear after such a deluge as we’d had, but there was something else about it, an urgency to it, a rhythm of panic about it . . .’

Day says he has always tended to mythologise the stories he’s been told.

‘I am the youngest in my family, I am four years younger than any of the others. I’ve always been fascinated by things that happened before I was born, all those things. It’s a bent in my imagination. (When the eels came out) it was like, OK, the locals can only know so much; they’ve only been here so long. What if someone came along that really knew?’

The Patron Saint of Eels is 39-year-old Day’s first novel, plucked from the slush pile by Picador”

What ails thee, eels? – Books – “What ails thee, eels?


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