Great Western Highway
In Civilization, Niall Ferguson identifies six ‘killer apps’ that made the West the dominant culture globally for five centuries: competition, science, property, medicine, consumerism and the Western work ethic. Great Western Highway by Anthony Macris explores these same forces in a highly contemporary love story that resonates with the vitality of Sydney’s Inner West. Nick loves Penny – he thinks – but still loves Christina, who dropped him after a decade-long relationship. However, Penny, whose own stocks aren’t particularly high, has decided to no longer invest her future in Nick. Her only prospective romance is her ex, Murray, and Penny’s bosses, Lawrence (the weasel) and Joy (who’s anything but) do nothing to make her future anything other than uncertain. The story develops through some great dialogue, although most revealingly, through the protagonists’ inner monologues. Against the backdrop of this consumerist epoch of economic rationalism and televised wars on terror, Macris suggests societal forces that operate at a global scale also manifest at a deeply personal level. As rich in metaphors as it is, Great Western Highway rings most truly through its evocation of the most basic and real of human themes – love, and how to live a good life. This reader, at least, was left hoping for the best for both Nick and Penny.
Anthony Macris is an Associate Professor of Creative Writing at UTS. Following the critical success of his first novel Capital, volume one, he received three Australia Council grants to write Great Western Highway. Parts of the novel and an additional theory component were completed at the University of Western Sydney as part of his PhD.
This review was first published by UTS: Newsroom