The Returns by Philip Salom

Reviewed by
September 2019, no. 414
Brenda Walker reviews 'The Returns' by Philip Salom

The Returns

by Philip Salom

Transit Lounge, $29.95 pb, 324 pp, 9781925760262

The Returns by Philip Salom

Reviewed by
September 2019, no. 414

A bookseller, Trevor, sits in his shop in Melbourne making conversation with his customers: an exasperating mixture of confessional, hesitant, deranged, and disruptive members of the public. One man stalks him, armed with an outrageous personal demand; another tries to apologise for assaulting him. The apology is almost as unnerving as the attack. The bookshop is a kind of theatre, with a ceiling mirror reflecting the tops of Trevor’s customer’s heads. Trevor has a seat onstage at ground level, and a seat in the gods. Elizabeth, a book editor, steadies herself against his windows as she begins to faint. His book display is not responsible for this partial loss of consciousness; she has a medical problem and Trevor offers her a cup of tea.

This is the dramatic set-up of Philip Salom’s latest novel, The Returns, a tightly plotted story with a knowing and satirical edge. Salom is a Melbourne writer, initially known for his exceptional poetry, which has won notable prizes, including the Commonwealth Poetry Book Prize – twice. He made a seamless transition from poet to novelist in 1991. The Returns is his fourth novel, following the successful publication of Waiting (2016), which was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award.

Subscribe to ABR

Brenda Walker reviews 'The Returns' by Philip Salom

The Returns

by Philip Salom

Transit Lounge, $29.95 pb, 324 pp, 9781925760262

You May Also Like

From the New Issue

Leave a comment

If you are an ABR subscriber, you will need to sign in to post a comment.

If you have forgotten your sign in 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 ABR Comments. We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.