Meanjin A–Z: Fine fiction 1980 to now
Melbourne University Press, $29.99 pb, 225 pp, 9780522873696
The narrator of David Malouf’s virtuosic ‘A Traveller’s Tale’ (1982) describes Queensland’s far north as ‘a place of transformations’ and unwittingly provides us with an epigraph for this collection.
Without doubt, every story selected from Meanjin’s cache of the last thirty-eight years deserves this second airing, but if, as editor Jonathan Green attests, short fiction hardly sells, then his parsimonious introduction could bear expansion. It would be interesting to know, for example, why 2009 boasts five contributors, among them Georgia Blain’s astute rendition of childhood injustices in ‘Intelligence Quotient’, and Chris Womersley’s account of a sudden flood of grief spiked with ghostly undertones in ‘The Very Edge of Things’; and why the 1990s warrant a scant two inclusions, both of which, ‘The Wolfman’s Sister’ (1996) by Barbara Creed and ‘The Swimmer’ (1999) by Kevin Brophy, portray disconcerting aspects of gender relations. Nor does Green’s alphabetical-by-author arrangement illuminate his claim for the gradual admission of the broadest range of voices to Australian letters.