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Julian Corkell is a Filthy Liar by D J Connell

(Blue Door, $32.99)

If you’re feeling a certain lack of panache in your life and just need a bit of laughing out loud to set you right, look no further than Julian Corkle.

Part Adrian oole, part Augusten Burroughs, part ouriel’s Wedding, this hilarious story of an eccentric young Tasmanian trying to make his way in a world full of frumps without an inkling of pizzazz had me in stitches.

From the moment Julian emerges, his mother can tell he has small-screenability. “Twinkle, twinkle,” she tells her son, assuring him he’s destined for great things, possibly even a Tassie Wallaby, the state’s highest entertainment award. All he has to do is get through his teens in one piece, which is easier said than done when you prefer Nancy dolls to dinky toys and playing doctors-and nurses to cricket.

It doesn’t help that Julian’s dad is a beer-drinking, sports-mad meanie who takes the rented colour TV with him when he moves out, leaving Julian’s mother in tears in front of the black-and-white.

“oy one source of real comfort,” says Julian of this chaotic time, “was an Australian Ladies’ Companion recipe for the 20-minute sponge cake.” As he drops out of school and lurches from one dead-end job to another, that Tassie Wallaby seems to move further and further away but it’s only a matter of time before this natural star finds a way for his inner twinkle to really shine.

DJ (Dianne) Connell is actually a New Zealander but has spent years living and working abroad: Julian Corkle is a Filthy Liar was actually written in Paris. The film rights have already been optioned by a UK production company and the book looks set to become an international humour classic.

What I loved about it? Julian is different in a way that can get a young person severely doofed up in the carpark – especially, I imagine, in smalltown Australia – but despite the risks he doesn’t hide his light under a bushel: he dances on top.

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