Gretchen Shirm reviews 'Our Magic Hour' by Jennifer Down

Gretchen Shirm reviews 'Our Magic Hour' by Jennifer Down

Our Magic Hour

by Jennifer Down

Text Publishing, $29.99 pb, 288 pp, 9781925240832

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, and Adam were friends in high school – their bond was close, even claustrophobic: they shared beds and their conversations were frank, at times needful. As the narrative begins, Katy has taken her own life, and Audrey and Adam are grieving. When Audrey receives the news, Katy's coat is still draped over a chair in Audrey's kitchen, 'an exoskeleton left behind'. Audrey's mostly happy relationship with Nick is fraying; Adam keeps 'getting scared of everything'.

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Published in April 2016, no. 380
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.