Hamish Hamilton, $32.99 pb, 291 pp, 9781926428703
Fusion is the fiction début from the author of the acclaimed Madness: A memoir (2013). It draws on Australian gothic and older gothic traditions. With the meditative possibilities of walking alpine ranges, it also portrays claustrophobia and compulsion. Its drama centres on a small and wounded cast, a reclusive household that suddenly encounters the outside world.
Conjoined twins Sea and Serene share a life that, although secluded, is vibrant with sensory information and memory. The past, a childhood of barbaric treatment at the hands of nuns and classmates at Hope Home, lingers in their minds. Cruelty has driven the twins to their quiet home on Blindeye Creek. One of the few intimate relationships they experience lies in the connection to their environment, which, in turn, links the twins to those who have walked these mountains before:
This land is a sentient being with an enormous elemental power, fierce spirit – holy and unholy both – above and below, all round and beyond us. The Jaithmathang people, Bidawal people, the Dhudhuroa people knew this well. Thousands and thousands and thousands of years before us. Their songlines still criss-cross the earth where the Lightning folk walked before they all became stars.