The Fish by Lloyd Jones
Wow – I think I read this in a day. I sat on the window seat and just got hooked into the clever and fantastical story that is The Fish. The story starts sometime in the 1950s and our narrator is a young boy with two older sisters. The eldest, Carla, has left abruptly and writes to her younger brother from Sydney, wanting to know all the ins and outs of family life. The other sister is banished to live in a caravan in the local campground after she gets pregnant. As the youngest, and a boy, he is forever struggling to keep up with the others and much seems hidden or kept from him. When the baby is born, the family are shocked by how ‘other’ he is. They refer to him as The Fish and as the reader, I was never sure how literal the descriptions of The Fish were or was he normal but just seemed different to the family. Our narrator has writing aspirations but after The Fish is born and the family deals with addiction and loss, he struggles to keep up with his letters to Carla and so he drifts into the family scrap metal business. The Fish also starts working part-time in the family business during school holidays and becomes popular with the customers, which creates the sense that he could actually be more acceptable/normal than we have been led to believe. There is much in this novel that feels familiar, like the Wahine disaster, school in the sixties and wayward siblings. But then there are undercurrents of the strange and unknowable … The Fish. Lloyd Jones has once again created a very clever novel that is so very easy to read.