Now that the shortlist is out, I thought I had better get a move on and review the last of the longlist! My predictions were mostly right – I did think that The Other Side of the World and A Guide to Berlin would be there, but they were replaced by the two short story collections A Few Days in the Country and Other Stories and Six Bedrooms. I am really pleased that I read the entire longlist, as I discovered a few brilliant stories which I would not otherwise have read.
A Short History of Richard Kline – Amanda Lohrey
25th February 2015, 272 pages, 3/5 stars
I really liked the first few chapters (although I found quite a few editing mistakes…..), which talked about Richard Kline’s early life and his general discontent with his lot. In the early chapters, he tries many things to discover why he isn’t happy. He knows that he has it good, but he just doesn’t feel it. However, his supposed grand epiphany about spiritualism didn’t feel all that grand. It felt as though Lohrey was preaching to the reader, and I wasn’t feeling it. The last two thirds of the book were tedious and whiny….
Anchor Point – Alice Robinson
1st March 2015, 263 pages, 4/5 stars
This book begins with the disappearance of a mother. Laura, ten years old, takes on the responsibility of the household, and tries to remove the traces of her mother’s existence. The story is told in four parts – each part examines one year in the Laura’s life, skipping five-ten years each time. I really loved the Australian setting, and Laura’s connection to the family farm. The characters were fantastic – not just Laura, but her father Bruce, and her sister Vik. It perfectly encapsulates the struggles of people on the land, and also the often strained relationships families have with one another. It was a fantastic novel, and I absolutely adored every little piece.
Panthers and the Museum of Fire – Jen Craig
1st March 2015, 130 pages, 3/5 stars
Written in the form of a random thought process as the writer walks through Glebe and Surrey Hills, this book was a tricky read. I really enjoyed it when I was paying attention, but I often found my own thoughts wandering away from the book at hand. Jen Craig blurred the line between fiction and non-fiction, which had me feeling rather unsettled. Although it looks like a short read, this novella needs to be read slowly; you need to take the time to ponder and consider Craig’s words.
Six Bedrooms – Tegan Bennett Daylight
1st July 2015, 240 pages, 4/5 stars
A collection of ten stories, Six Bedrooms was a delight to read. Elizabeth Harrower’s A Few Days in the Country left me apprehensive to begin another set of short stories, but I am glad that I persevered. The stories in Six Bedrooms remind the reader of the world of adolescence, and highlight the vulnerabilities of teenage-dom. Although many of the stories revolve around different characters, Tasha and her best friend Judy pop up a few times. It was nice to have familiarity amongst the new. It was a fantastic collection, and renewed my partiality towards short stories.