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Gretchen Shirm

Gretchen Shirm

Gretchen Shirm’s collection of interwoven short stories Having Cried Wolf was published in September 2010 and was shortlisted for the UTS/Glenda Adams Award for New Writing. In 2011, she was named as aSydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Novelist. Her writing has been published in The Australian, Best Australian Stories 2011, Review of Australian Fiction, Southerly, Sydney Review of Books and The Saturday Paper. She is a candidate for her Doctor of Creative Arts at the Writing & Society Research Centre, University of Western Sydney.

Gretchen Shirm reviews 'You Belong Here' by Laurie Steed

May 2018, no. 401 26 April 2018
Interwoven short story collections are often at their best when they offer multiple perspectives on the same event. Laurie Steed does this well in his début novel You Belong Here, as he captures the life of a single family through the multiplicity of its members. Jen meets Steven on her way to a party in Brunswick in 1972; within a few years they are married. Steed shows the way two people bring ... (read more)

Gretchen Shirm reviews 'Rain Birds' by Harriet McKnight

October 2017, no. 395 27 September 2017
In Harriet McKnight’s début novel, a story about early onset dementia is offset by a second conservation-focused narrative involving the glossy black cockatoo. This braided structure immediately creates anticipation about where and how the two stories will meet. Pina is the primary carer for her husband, Alan, whose illness now dictates the rhythm of their lives. The illness is erasing Alan’ ... (read more)

Gretchen Shirm reviews 'To Know My Crime' by Fiona Capp

March 2017, no. 389 24 February 2017
Described as ‘modern literary noir’, Fiona Capp’s novel delves deeper into the psychology of its characters than most in the genre. The opening is sleek and pacey, as Capp guides us expertly through the central intrigue. Ned is squatting in a boatshed on the Mornington Peninsula, having entrusted the investment of the sum of his and his sister’s inherited wealth to a childhood friend, who ... (read more)

Gretchen Shirm reviews 'Our Magic Hour' by Jennifer Down

April 2016, no. 380 24 March 2016
Jennifer Down's first novel, Our Magic Hour, is notable for its stylistic individuality. The novel's opening is disorientating at first: Audrey wears a shirt whose 'sleeves swallowed her hands'; spaghetti bolognese 'spatters' on a stove; a football match 'bellows' from a television. This is an object-rich terrain, in which the details provide cues to interpreting the fictional world. Audrey, Katy ... (read more)

Gretchen Shirm reviews 'Relativity' by Antonia Hayes

October 2015, no. 375 30 September 2015
It is not difficult to see why the publisher expects Relativity to find a wide readership; centred on Ethan its eccentric, physics-obsessed young protagonist, this is a touching portrayal of a fractured family. Claire has always known her son is special, with his talent for numbers and precocious knowledge of astronomical facts. At school, his peers call him ‘Stephen Hawking’, but to Ethan th ... (read more)

Gretchen Shirm reviews 'The Break' by Deb Fitzpatrick

November 2014, no. 366 01 November 2014
The Break centres on the story of two families. Rosie quits her job as a journalist in Perth and moves, with her boyfriend, to the Margaret River, where they try to escape the monotony of their city existence. Ferg lives on a fruit orchard with his wife, his son, and his widowed mother. With the arrival of Ferg’s estranged brother Mike, relationships are straining. The characters in The Break st ... (read more)

Gretchen Shirm reviews 'Arms Race' by Nic Low

September 2014, no. 364 01 September 2014
Characters on the verge of a breakthrough populate this impressive début short story collection. An aspiring artist in ‘Making It’ is unsure whether a tilt at greatness is worth the personal sacrifice. In ‘Scar’, a middle-aged geologist feels conflicted by prospective fatherhood and observes, ‘Against that slow patience of stone the need to reproduce had always seemed like vanity.’ Lo ... (read more)