The Complete Stories
Knopf, $45 hb, 508 pp
David Malouf’s The Complete Stories brings together the three and a bit books, spanning twenty-five years, that constitute his forays into shorter fiction: Antipodes (1985), Dream Stuff (2000), and Every Move You Make (2006), along with two stories that accompanied his novella Child’s Play (1982). Given that this is a collection rather than a selection – no stories are cut from the earlier books – the quality ebbs and flows, both from story to story and from book to book. Despite its slight imperfections, The Complete Stories confirms that Malouf is, at his best, a masterful exponent of short fiction. The book is a monument, a sort of literary Big Pineapple, to Malouf’s virtuosity and to his Queensland origins (though the hefty and handsome hardback is let down by its flimsy boards, which rub and bump almost to the touch). Malouf incorporates the lives and foibles of his characters – more often, and more satisfyingly, men – into his bigger vision of the world. He contrasts individuals’ inner worlds with their public façades, then connects them, with thin but unbreakable threads, to their local communities, to magnificently reconstructed landscapes, and ultimately to major historical events and global trends.