Hardly Beach Weather

by Bernard Cohen


“We are travelling with the narrator Jack and his passenger Maria as they confront the 1400 kilometres from Sydney to Adelaide. They are former lovers. It is soon apparent that for Jack at least, the relationship is not over… we are not allowed to forget that whoever they pick up in their car or meet in pubs and motels, they are a deflection from Jack and Maria having to face the intensity of themselves.
“But, as much as the focus is unremittingly on Jack and Maria, Cohen allows himself to assess our relationship with Australia as a geography of the mind… Jack and Maria, as do we, come to realise that Australia is a place where: 'People write their histories and graffiti across the land with marks made by ploughs and bricklayers. They drive animals, leave footprints, stir the dust.'
This is a novel that deserves to be widely read. Cohen's exploration of Jack and Maria is tender, at times poignant, and non-judgmental. We are reminded of our own frailties in the changes and chances of this fleeting world. They grow on the journey and so do we.(Melbourne) Age

"Each character is intriguing, each story completely absorbing… writing full of great wit and insight, flashes of brilliance." — Good Reading

Bernard Cohen proves that winning the Australian-Vogel Literary Prize in 1996 was not a one-off. [In HBW] Cohen combines lunacy and dark comedy and pays tribute to the Outback — The Land

A shoal of fancy writers from this hemisphere is proving that they deserve bread for being read because their work embellishes the world. They include [Richard] Flanagan, Peter Carey, Murray Bail, Tim Winton, Kate Grenville and, most recently, Chloe Hooper, whose A Child's Book of True Crime is short-listed for the Orange Prize.
The refreshing and exceptional talents of NSW writer Bernard Cohen are such that he is swimming among them.
Cohen shares with the rest of our highly exportable literary elite an inventive energy, a natural eccentricity and a delight in the weird challenge of Australian rural realities. He is also highly entertaining, clever and funny. His new book effervesces with his sharp, self-deprecating brand of humour. There is a perverse, verbose delight in looping all human experience into the space of one quite ordinary journey, with hints of Woody Allen and James Joyce.
Hardly Beach Weather is a road novel. Jack, one of life's drifters and recently rejected, has offered to drive Maria his ex-lover from Sydney to Adelaide where her new boyfriend waits…
Their journey is compelling on two levels. There is an ongoing, intensified encounter with altering landscapes and ardent bush types, and there is Jack's discovery of the jaded aimlessness of modern, urban love.
Throughout their journey they are assaulted by personal stories from shop assistants and country doctors, talk-back callers and drovers' wives. They are haunted by the lust-heated and broken-hearted…
[The voice] is almost always eloquent and sardonic the Cohen voice.
This is a quenching draught of fresh-from-the-press Ozlit. I won't let on as to whether Jack gets the girl in the end -- read it and see. — Australian

It is inevitable that comparisons will be made with Kerouac's great road novel, but this is wonderfully Australian, a celebration of Australian quirky ways. I was disappointed when we reached Adelaide, having hoped that Maria's boyfriend had left for Perth and the journey would continue! — Illawarra Mercury

Cohen has a capacity for serious analysis of contemporary urban culture; he is equally merciless as social commentator or psychological profiler and his deadpan humour is always on target.
Though the satisfaction in some road trips is in reaching the destination, in this book and with Cohen behind the wheel, the journey remains as satisfying as its end. Newcastle Herald

Former Vogel Award-winning author Bernard Cohen has made a triumphant literary return with Hardly Beach Weather, a road trip through the darkly comic heart of Australia...— Gold Coast Bulletin

"In a fire-choked Sydney summer, Jack undertakes to drive his ex-girlfriend Maria to Adelaide to meet her new lover. It is the sort of quixotic decision of his that first enticed then came to aggravate her. Their three-day journey is filled with the stories of anguished solitaries whom they encounter in delicatessens, bars and by the road. This is the shape of Bernard Cohen's latest novel, Hardly Beach Weather, and it gives him ample scope to deploy a wit that animates every passage of speech…[Cohen] writes with a pungency and intelligence beyond most of his contemporaries." — the Bulletin

"Imagine driving your ex-girlfriend from Sydney to Adelaide, to deliver her to her boyfriend, and imagine the imagining you'd go through on your journey. If you can't quite imagine it, read Bernard Cohen's book — he imagines it very well…" — Blast