This Valentine’s Day, forget chocolates and fragrance. Give your partner the gift of insight with this thoughtful short story collection.
Who’ll enjoy this:
Women AND men will get something out of this. While the stories have love at their heart, this is not a book of romance.
29 short stories by new, emerging and established Australian writers. 304 pages.
Reading a good short story collection is like dipping into a box chocolates – each one with a different and delicious centre that contains a kernel of truth or experience that leaves a lingering after-taste in the mouth.
And so it is, with Australian Love Stories – a collection of 29 short stories by a mix of established, emerging and new Australian writers. At their heart, these stories tackle the eternal question – What is love, and how do we experience it?
Love: A profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person. (dictionary.com)
What makes a love story? Is it boy meets girl, boy and girl fall in love, and live happily ever after.
Fortunately, none of the stories in this collection remotely resemble this well-worn narrative arc which confuses love for romance.
Yes, there are stories of falling in love. But there are also stories of falling out of love, of familial love, erotic love, love between seniors, love between juniors, same-sex love, painful love, joyful love.
What they tell us this – the dictionary is next to useless when it comes to defining love, for there are as many different expressions of it as there are humans on the planet.
Singling out particular stories is always difficult in such a diverse collection. However, Bruce Pascoe’s Dawn is memorable for its lyrical writing on lust in the later years of life. Equally, I found myself nodding my head at Natasha Lester’s It Used To Be His Eyes and its highly relatable depiction of the impact of childbirth on a relationship. In The Contract Caroline Petit manages to blur fantasy and reality in an enjoyably disturbing way.
From 445 stories, esteemed short story writer, Cate Kennedy made the final selection and this collection is worth purchasing for her forward alone with its gems of insight into how and why the stories were selected: I want to tip them into your open hand now, like shells and fragments of coral and small weathered pieces of sea glass, testaments of growth and time and some hard, patient tides. They’re not all pretty, any more than love is always pretty, but look, here they are, miraculous, tumbled and shining, from a stranger’s cupped hand to yours. I hope you love them.
I did Cate, and I know, dear reader, that you will too.