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Selling the Dream by Hugh Mackay

A review by Nalini Haynes

Lincoln the Hunter is suspiciously like Russell Howcroft from ABC’s Gruen, springing to 3D life in the pages of Selling the Dream. Like Russell, Lincoln would be happy to sell the planet to make a few bucks out of bottled water. But Linc’s latest advertising campaign is even more dire: he’s been assigned The Ripper, a brand new snack that includes a dash of actual poison.

Selling the Dream is a short novel, even more of a novella really, so I don’t want to say too much about the plot. Imagine an episode of Gruen mixed with Max Barry’s snarky satire, underpinned with decades of social research conducted by the man who was Australia’s foremost social researcher for decades. <– That’s Hugh Mackay, by the way, and his novels are always consistent with his social research, grounding even his most bizarre story (House Guest, anyone?) firmly in reality.

Australia’s John Clarke blurbed Selling the Dream. Clarke says ‘The stiff-arm tackles in this book are a thing of beauty’ and ‘If someone asked me who should write a satirical novel about the advertising business — someone with inside knowledge who could write well and was extremely clever and amusing — I’d say, “See if Hugh Mackay is available”.’

This is a read-in-one sitting story that was difficult to review because it’s short. I don’t want to tell you about Lincoln’s self-delusion, his affair that belongs somewhere between The Office and the Bad Sex Awards, not because of Mackay’s writing but because Lincoln is no stud; I don’t want to tell you about the wife or the subordinate whose ideals… Just read it, ok? Selling the Dream: a satire inside an advertising agency.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
ISBN: 9781760553371
Format: paperback, 225 pages
Category: Fiction & related items / Modern & contemporary fiction (post c 1945)
Imprint: Macmillan Australia

Selling the dream

Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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