The CBD corporate world is more known for its vast foyers, elevators and symbols of power than its dark humour.
Former federal minister and local member Lindsay Tanner works on the 33rd floor of one of Melbourne’s most excessive towers, 101 Collins St and he gets a kick out of lampooning it.
The water is sparkling across the bayside suburbs during the Christmas break but Mr Tanner granted CBD News an exclusive interview in his office at Lazards to promote his forthcoming novel.
Jack, the hero of Mr Tanner’s first novel Comfort Zone is back in a sequel, due for release by Scribe later this year. Jack still drives a taxi but has dropped his CBD connections, instead teaming up with a love interest called Emily who draws him further into the political intrigue of the Carlton Estate.
“Jack is a mate,” Mr Tanner says of his main character. “Mates you see only every six months. You bump into them at the pub. When you do see them you catch up.”
Opposite 101 Collins is a CBD hang-out called Garden City which is the antithesis of a Jack-style pub. There’s a queue out the front at 5 pm on a Friday. “It’s like a mosh pit,” Mr Tanner says.
Different kinds of characters hang out at Garden City. “These CBD places have potential for stories,” Mr Tanner said. He created a character called Matt who worked at 101 and played the role of feint in Comfort Zone.
“I deliberately kept him a bit opaque. He was a cardboard cut-out young banker and everything Jack wasn’t. Jack was a bit mesmerised by him. He had natural authority.”
“Matt was a bit of a climber, putting on an act. You don’t know the real him. He’s a believable character for a high-rise corporate. His dad had a used car yard.”
Mr Tanner’s ironic depiction of the social mobility that drives the CBD corporate type make him an amusing and important commentator on contemporary city life.
Matt turned out to be a cocaine dealer and did the dirty on Jack. The city slicker was adept at upfront charm but hadn’t got his act together in terms of mates and the raw honesty that drives them.
“You won’t find a place like Garden City in Vermont or Coburg,” Mr Tanner said. “It’s a CBD thing – full of the Matts of the world.”
Mr Tanner makes the most of the tension between city and suburban characters in his fictional work. An analogy could be drawn between factions in politics. “Matt might have a comeback in a future novel,” he joked.