Reading this short story collection from one of Australia’s favourite authors is like drinking a tequila slammer; your senses will feel slightly assaulted but you’ll come back for more.. and more.
Who’s it for:
Strictly adults only, due to the explicit sex scenes and drug references
15 short stories over 336 pages
Acclaimed Australian writer, Christos Tsiolkas. You know him from The Slap, Loaded and Barracuda.
Merciless Gods is a tough but rewarding read. It hurts, but in the best kind of way.
The stories cover the subjects that preoccupy us all – sexuality, love, relationships, family, ageing, and the sheer, shitty darkness of life.
What is remarkable about Tsiolkas’ writing is that he seems to break so many of the rules that define best-selling novelists; his subject matter is dark and brutal, his main characters often unlikeable and he engages in the type of ‘telling’ that writing teachers insist on warning their students to avoid.
The fact that it all works is a mystery – and perhaps testament to the mastery of the talent. Perhaps his secret lies in the idea that in order to break the rules of writing, you first have to have a complete handle on them.
Merciless Gods is what the art world would call a survey show. The oldest story in the collection was published twenty years ago. The first story is new. Both are devastating.
As with any good survey show, there is evidence of development and maturation. But there is also evidence of that thing that all great artists begin with – talent. And in this collection we see the full force of the skill that has made Tsiolkas one of this country’s most important, and most popular authors.