The Pillars – A lot of sex, but is there substance?
Don’t worry about the housing bubble, she would say. Don’t worry about the fact that you will never be able to afford a home. Worry about the day after. That’s when they will all come, with their black shirts and bayonets, and then you will see the drowned bodies and slit necks. And I would stand there and say, But Mum, why are you telling me this when I’m ten years old.
Working as a writer hasn’t granted Pano the financial success he once imagined, but lobbying against a mosque being built across the road from his home (and the occasional meth-fuelled orgy) helps to pass the time. He’s also found himself a gig ghostwriting for a wealthy property developer. The pay cheque alone is enough for him to turn a blind eye to some dodgy dealings – at least for the time being.
In a world full of flashy consumerism and aspiration, can Pano really escape his lot in life? And does he really want to?
A novel of dark desires and moral grey areas, THE PILLARS is an extraordinary new novel from one of Australia’s most exciting contemporary voices.
Duffy’s Thoughts on The Pillars
I was really looking forward to The Pillars as Down The Hume was an interesting read for me with unique prose and an outstanding critical debut novel for author Peter Polites. However, The Pillars left me feeling a little empty. I wonder if that was the point?
I love a character and plot-driven novel, which is why I think I struggled with The Pillars. Polites is adept at writing about Western Sydney and living in a multicultural Australia, but I wish he would delve just as deep into the characters he creates.
Pano is the main character who lives in a lovely new apartment with his flatmate and sometime f*ckbuddy. Tensions arise in the cookie-cutter new build estate when a mosque posts an application to build nearby. Scaremongering and neighbourhood gossip about the house prices being affected ripple through the neighbourhood and even some Muslim neighbours are against having a place of worship at their door. Simultaneously Pano gets a gig ghostwriting for a prominent property developer, and the more he knows, the less he likes.
The parallel story about the property developer gives a huge, not so subtle nod to the terrible corruption and shonky construction of new-build apartment blocks which have lead to many people unable to live in their homes and some tragic accidents. There are also themes of drug use and mental health woven into the story. Pretty hot topics and very timely, yet the suspense and intensity was lacking.
I felt there was much here to explore and Polites used the pages to fill up with more sex than I was expecting and I feel this came at the expense of plot and character development and didn’t add anything to the story at all.
It is clear that Peter Polites is a very talented writer and when he nails it, he really nails it. But, for me, I was left not caring about any of the characters, but wanted to go off and read a little more about the topics which arose.
I look forward to reading Peter Polites next book as I’m intrigued to see him develop as a writer and hope that book three will deliver some characters I can connect with and care about.