Ashley Sievwright’s second novel has several of the hallmarks of his Commonwealth Writers’ Prize-nominated début novel, The Shallow End (2008). At the heart of each is a mystery that slowly unfolds while never overwhelming the story. It is not the dénouement in either book that is important, but the effect that gradual revelations have on the main character’s highly internalised experience of life. Like the earlier book, Walter is filled with droll observations about life, presented at a gentle pace.
Ashley Sievwright’s The Shallow End, an often entertaining début, casts a wry gaze over a steamy Melbourne summer. Narrated by an unnamed observer, the novel attempts to capture an authentically idiosyncratic gay male voice while traversing a myriad of issues, such as heartbreak, sex, media sensationalism, love, cruising and happiness. Both witty and easy to read, the novel, though largely superficial, is filled with moments of droll sagacity.