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John M Wright

This collection of stories put me off from the first page. In the opening paragraph there is ‘an exuberant kelpie bounding’. The second paragraph outdoes that, presenting seagulls as ‘wheeling and screaming’, in search of ‘a reeking fish head’. We already know that ‘the life was lonely, but it was peaceful’. Clichés enlivened by irony or just some simple surprise of context proves useful tools in the hands of a good writer. But Julie Lewis, on the evidence of Double Exposure, is not a good writer and cliches are offered up to us without any apology. Much of the problem seems to be that she overdoes adjectives and adverbs:

She felt for a pulse. Feeble. She gingerly touched the stubbly cheek It was bruised and there was a gash on the forehead. His clothes, seaman’s wear, were soaked. She studied the unconscious form. He was fairly young, about thirty, she thought. Looked a battler. She smiled ruefully and gently lifted the lock of hair that had fallen across his brow. It was matted with blood. (‘Flotsam’, p 2)

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