The teeming diversity of Australian writers is reflected in this anthology edited by Rebecca Starford, whose hand-picked cavalcade of short fiction demonstrates the pliability of the form and reflects the tumultuousness of our lives, albeit with the exemption of COVID-19, musings on which will have to wait until next year’s collection (although Mirandi Riwoe’s opener, “So Many Ways,” touches on its impact).
This is a collection of uncommonly high value. Personal highlights include Madeleine Watts’ “Floodwaters,” in which a woman witnesses the unravelling of a friend following a sexual assault accusation. Ka Rees explores the commodification of a nuclear disaster in “Among the Ruins,” as her protagonist Hetty surveys a nuclear wasteland for a role playing videogame she’s developing.
“The Fingerprint” by Donna Mazza might be my favourite; it’s creepy and subversive as it dives into the world of genetic experimentation and its entanglement with art. “I Go To Pieces” by Elizabeth Flux is a much quieter story, involving an unnamed narrator retracing an international holiday, from Rome to Barcelona, with the ashes of the friend she originally travelled with.
Jack Kirne’s “Holy Water” is unsettlingly compelling as two men do some work on the house of a troubled woman, who keeps bottled holy water in her fridge. And in “Long Road: Becoming” Mykaela Saunders spotlights a day in the life of a young man awaiting the visit of his parole officer.
The stories here avoid narrative experimentation and excessive stylistic virtuosity. They are heavy in thematic depth, but written in plain, artful language. Nothing is exclusive or elitist. These are stories for everyone. And with these tidbits, I’ve opened my eyes to a whole host of new-to-me writers I want to read more of.
Number Of Pages: 224
Published: 1st September 2020
Publisher: Kill Your Darlings Pty Ltd
Country of Publication: AU
Dimensions (cm): 19.8 x 12.8