Short Stories

You are perfect for this story. I will never meet you.’ We are invited into Australian Love Stories and into Bruce Pascoe’s erotic reverie with this line from ‘Dawn’. The reader is embraced, as the luxuriating eye of Pascoe’s narrator embraces the recumbent body of the woman beside him. His gaze is illicit, touch forbidden. We are privileged voyeurs ...

One swallow doesn’t make a summer, as the stark proverb cautions, but a cockatoo flocking of short stories suggests that the form is perhaps enjoying a revival – and the publishing industry has seized an opportunity. As it should.

In 2013, Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize for literature, lauded as ‘the master of the contemporary short story’. Edna O ...

David Whish-Wilson reviews Tony Birch’s new collection of twelve short stories which display his characteristic humour, laconicism and charm.

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This collection of strange and spooky stories was perfect reading for that lazy week between Christmas and New Year, providing a dark antidote to the forced cheeriness of the season. The book was inspired partly by The Twilight Zone and similar television shows. Contributors to the anthology were invited to write about the fantastical, uncanny, absurd, or, as ...

Finishing Chris Somerville’s début story collection, We Are Not the Same Anymore, I felt a sense of alienation and ennui. Somerville writes with a stylistic sparseness that is deceptively simple but that repays rereading. Passages of awkwardness and deep introspection are punctuated by moments of humour, warmth, and vulnerability. Embedded within this star ...

Philip Roth wasn’t the only writer to take the unusual step of announcing his retirement at the end of last year. Confirmation that Alice Munro was also relinquishing fiction was tucked away on the New Yorker’s blog, Page-Turner, three days after the New York Times ran an interview with Roth on its front page. While literary magazines here and over ...

The Sleepers Almanac No. 8 edited by Zoe Dattner and Louise Swinn

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April 2013, no. 350

The latest Sleepers Almanac opens with a surreal encounter between a suave cane toad, presented as an amphibian Jiminy Cricket, and the guilt-wracked mother of a drug addict (‘Happy Monday’), and ends with the elaborate imaginings of a woman trying to distract herself from the reason why she is sitting in a hospital waiting room (‘How to Talk to a Fire ...

In one of Georgia Blain’s subtle, beautifully paced stories, a young girl is given an IQ test. Believing it to be a game, she is outraged when her older brother crows about his results and she realises she has been evaluated. Later, as an adult, she can put her childhood indignation into words: ‘I thought it was just a matter of random chance. I should have been ...

From the opening page of this her second collection of stories, Susan Midalia propels her uncertain and wavering female character into an alien environment. Enter the concrete world of Moscow airport, its people who think you are simple if you smile at them, its ‘prowling men straight out of gangster movies’, tension as the blank, unblinking woman at immigration ...

Cate Kennedy’s fine second collection of short stories, Like a House on Fire, is of a determinedly realist bent. Metafictional play does not generally form part of Kennedy’s armoury, and the mostly low-rent settings and struggling characters reprise what in the 1980s and early 1990s was briefly known as dirty realism, though Kennedy’s prose is not as re ...