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Never ending

by
June 2010, issue no. 322

Gatherers and Hunters by Thomas Shapcott

Wakefield Press, $22.95 pb, 206 pp

Never ending

by
June 2010, issue no. 322

Tom Shapcott’s most recent volume collects nine short stories and one novella from 1997 to 2005, the period during which he was the inaugural Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Adelaide. Of his thirty-two volumes, eleven are novels, three are collections of short stories, and eighteen are books of poetry. Tom has received the Patrick White Prize, Senior Fellowships from the Australia Council and an Order of Australia. He has been Director of the Literature Board of the Australia Council, Executive Director of the National Book Council and a member of the Adelaide Festival Writers’ Week Committee. Does the man never sleep?

I hesitate to confess that I first made the acquaintance of Tom’s writing half a century ago, in the pages of Meanjin, where he published several poems. I was bowled over by their physicality, their urgency, their very human heat. Tom may be fifty years older and wiser, but the demands of the flesh still trouble his fiction. The novella ‘Sunshine Beach’, which concludes Gatherers and Hunters, is a moving version of that age-old drama of youth versus age. As Charlie, the retiree widower at the heart of ‘Sunshine Beach’, reflects while travelling north: ‘All the recent Guides praised octogenarian sex, didn’t they?’ That way trouble lies, not to mention embarrassment and shame.

Don Anderson reviews 'Gatherers and Hunters' by Thomas Shapcott

Gatherers and Hunters

by Thomas Shapcott

Wakefield Press, $22.95 pb, 206 pp

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