In her Introduction to The Best Australian Stories 2017, Maxine Beneba Clarke describes how the best short fiction leaves readers with ‘a haunting: a deep shifting of self, precipitated by impossibly few words’. Many of the stories here achieve this, inserting an image or idea into the reader’s mind and leaving it there to worry, delight, or intrigue. The collection as a whole seems haunted by the figure of the lost child, one that Peter Pierce suggested in his book The Country of Lost Children (1999) has preoccupied the Australian imagination at least since the nineteenth century, first as children lost to the bush and later as victims of adult behaviour. The children featured in these stories demonstrate resilience as well as damage, creativity as well as fear, but many of the adult protagonists are heavily shadowed by their anxiety over children.
Rachel Robertson reviews 'The Best Australian Stories 2017' edited by Maxine Beneba Clarke
The Best Australian Stories 2017
edited by Maxine Beneba Clarke
Black Inc., $29.99 pb, 188 pp, 9781863959612
Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month. We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen. If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.
Rachel Robertson is a West Australian writer and lecturer in professional writing at Curtin University. She was the joint winner (with Mark Tredinnick) of the 2008 Australian Book Review Calibre Prize for Outstanding Essay. Rachel’s essays and short fiction have been published in anthologies and journals such as Griffith Review, Island, Life Writing, Westerly, and Best Australian Essays 2008. She is the author of Reaching One Thousand: A Story of Love, Motherhood and Autism (2012) and co-editor of Purple Prose (2015).
By this contributor
Leave a comment
Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.
NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to email@example.com. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.