Fourth Estate $27.99 pb, 400 pp, 9781460752326
‘I write best from place,’ Catherine McKinnon told Fairfax newspapers in a recent interview. Her second novel, which concerns centuries of human interaction with the New South Wales coast region between Wollongong and Lake Illawarra, makes this abundantly clear.
Storyland ’s tendrils extend as far back as 1796 and as far forward as 2033 and 2717, though the latter is glimpsed mostly in the subtext. Four different settings are established in chronological order and then revisited in the reverse order following the centrepiece section. Through these enormous leaps in time, McKinnon observes what is fleeting in people’s lives and enduring in the landscape that surrounds (and sustains) them: ‘We’re part of their story, not the other way around,’ one character remarks of the longevity of the nearby lake and trees.