Dr Professor Grafton Everest
When historian and novelist Ross Fitzgerald enlisted the help of comedian Ian McFadyen as his co-writer an unholy alliance was born. It has blossomed and produced rare fruit … three books in fact. There was Going Out Backwards: A Grafton Everest Adventure, published in 2015, The Dizzying Heights, published in 2019, and now the latest Grafton Everest adventure (or should that be misadventure?), The Lowest Depths is just out. (There was another in between, the 2018 So Far, So Good: An Entertainment, which Fitzgerald wrote with broadcaster Antony Funnell.)
McFadyen, who lives in Brisbane’s north nowadays, is best known as the creator and producer of the Australian television series The Comedy Company and his impersonation of British naturalist David Attenborough is legendary.
McFadyen says he is pleased to assist Fitzgerald in continuing his satires and this is one of the funniest and cleverest. It’s the eighth Grafton Everest novel, which is remarkable considering that Fitzgerald, a prolific author and emeritus professor at Griffith University, says he never even expected the first book – Pushed from the Wings – to be published but thankfully Hale & Iremonger came to the rescue.
The new book features Dr Professor Grafton Everest caught up in a web of international espionage and intrigue.
Like Fitzgerald himself, Everest moved to Sydney from Brisbane eventually, but of course this is not an autobiography although there are autobiographical elements.
“Grafton Everest is what I could become if I let myself go,” Fitzgerald says. Everest has let himself go though and he is larger than life and an absolute shambles and one of the great Australian comic creations, according to Barry Humphries.
The humour of Grafton is underlain by a real tragedy – the death of Fitzgerald’s wife Lyndal last year.
What would she have thought of the latest Grafton Everest adventure?
“My late wife Lyndal rather cleverly never read a line of any of my Grafton Everest books which was a shrewd move,” Fitzgerald says.
The Lowest Depths, Hybrid Publishers, $24.99