Giramondo $26.95 pb, 335 pp, 9781925336085
The cover of Sean Rabin’s first novel, Wood Green, depicts a foggy eucalypt forest at dawn (or dusk), and a ghostly figure in the glow of torchlight. With the added element of the story’s setting – a secluded town nestled in the shadows of Mount Wellington, Tasmania – one could be forgiven for assuming that Wood Green is ‘yet another bush gothic’, instead of a modern and humorous discourse on small town life and writing itself.
Michael Pollard, a thirty-something academic from Sydney, arrives in Wood Green to work as secretary to the ageing, reclusive author Lucian Clarke, the subject of his PhD thesis. Their affiliation is interspersed with frequent pot-smoking sessions, musical and culinary interludes, and ponderings on writerly life, but is often strained by the demands of the cantankerous Lucian, who gives Michael the task of sorting through a lifetime of notes and books, whilst concealing a hidden agenda.