This Excellent Machine
Clem Whelan's got a problem: trapped in the suburbs in the Sunnyboy summer of 1984 he has to decide what to do with his life. Matriculation? He's more than able, but not remotely interested. Become a writer? His failed lawyer neighbour Peter encourages him, but maybe it's just another dead end? To make sense of the world, Clem uses his telescope to spy on his neighbours. From his wall, John Lennon gives him advice; his sister (busy with her Feres Trabilsie hairdressing apprenticeship) tells him he's a pervert; his best friend, Curtis, gets hooked on sex and Dante and, as the year progresses and the essays go unwritten, he starts to understand the excellence of it all.
His Pop, facing the first dawn of dementia, determined to follow an old map into the desert in search of Lasseter's Reef. His old neighbour, Vicky, returning to Lanark Avenue - and a smile is all it takes. Followed by a series of failed driving tests; and the man at his door, claiming to be his father.
It's going to be a long year, but in the end Clem emerges from the machine a different person, ready to face what he now understands about life, love, and the importance of family and neighbours.