I find it hard to review a collection of short stories. Usually the stories themselves have been written over a period of time and published in multiple journals, rather than written with a themed collection in mind. If there is a theme, it is detected more in the act of collecting than in the act of writing. That said, writers often work out a theme in a variety of ways, as if they are circling it, coming at it from different directions. It’s also difficult to talk about stories that themselves only take up about 10 pages or so, especially if the reader of the review hasn’t read them.
This collection is somewhat easier to talk about, because the title ‘Forecast: Turbulence” is such a strong theme that emerges from these stories. They are all about family members in turmoil, and nearly each one makes reference somewhere to the weather which in many ways reflects the pain and turbulence inside. In many ways, it is a blessing that these ARE short stories: ‘Weather Maps’ in particular, about a young woman cutting, is so intense that you wouldn’t want to extend for much longer. The most memorable of them for me is ‘Afterlife of a Stolen Child’, which revisits the kidnapping of a child many years previously, from the perspective of the family members and a man who believes that he is the missing child. The narrative revolves between the main protagonists, and it leaves the reader just as unsure and ambivalent as the characters find themselves.
I felt as if there were flashes of her other work in some of these stories. ‘The Republic of Outer Barcoo’, for instance, reminded me of her book Oyster for its outback setting of a cult. Several of the stories involve fathers.
The final story ‘Moon River’ is a memoir, and here the author speaks in her own voice. It is the most Australian of the stories, set in and around Brisbane. It is attached almost as a coda, and it does change the feel of the rest of the stories. It’s as if the author has stepped out from behind the curtain.
These are tight, well-written stories. She’s good.
Sourced from: Yarra Plenty Regional Library
My rating: 8.5/10