The Glass Whittler
Penguin, 94 pp, $9.99 pb
Stephanie Johnson writes short stories and writes mainly about women. It’s as though there’s a specific genre in current writing that ties together these two kinds of writing, for women writing about other women in short prose pieces make up a distinct category that includes almost all of the familiar names of women writing in Australia now. These women writers include migrants who have made their homes in Australia and write from that position. Johnson, for instance, is a New Zealander.
A convention of this genre is romantic love, and while the cliché used to mean that writing by women about women was no good, it is now this relationship between women and writing and romantic love that has become a powerful means of cultural critique. Another convention in this generic type of writing is ideology. And Stephanie Johnson’s collection of stories might have been called Tales of Love with more than a sideways glance at the work of feminist, especially French, writers. Yet another convention is formal experimentation – this kind of writing is self-conscious about the practice of writing – and Johnson can do that too.