The Best Australian Stories 2010
Edited by Cate Kennedy, Black Inc. $29.95
I’m very glad that the acclaimed short story writer and novelist, Cate Kennedy, edited this anthology but I’m sad, too, because it means none of her well-crafted stories feature.
Nonetheless, Kennedy has chosen well to ensure readers encounter some outstanding selections in this volume.
• David Francis’ Once Removed is a disturbing and very memorable portrait of what it can be like to return to your family’s homestead and land only to find that history has morphed to become disposable and one woman’s flesh and cantankerousness can still cause a stir.
• Meg Mundell’s The Tower unveils how the childish capacity to make foolish choices with disastrous consequences can end, much later, in having to face one’s past actions with greater force.
• Robert Drewe’s The Paleface and the Panther shows how half brothers can continue to diverge, goad, and play out the script of one-upmanship when maturity might suggest it should be otherwise.
• Antonia Baldo’s Get Well Soon reveals how a sibling’s illness can influence an already precarious family dynamic.
*Paddy O’Reilly’s The Salesman plays less extremely with eccentricity than some of her older stories but O’Reilly still displays great skill to deliver a memorable storyline and oddball characters.
Kennedy says these and other stories in the anthology have the “ow factor … a tender spot revealed, which reminded me that the greatest technical ability in the world is nothing until it is leavened by compassion”.
Read … and watch the bruises slowly appear.