There’s a story for most readers in this absorbing new collection of new short fiction. Dark, humorous, quirky and many other descriptive labels besides – pick your preferred writing style and there’s probably something to suit. My personal favourite is ‘Writing [in] the New Millenium’ for its examination of the idiosyncrasies, ego and self doubt of the writer. However so many others also stand out – in particular the strange sci-fi tale of ‘Moth’ by Jennifer Mills, the poignant story of ‘After Rachel’ by Tony Birch and ‘How My Father Dies in the End’ by Patrick Cullen – but it is hard to single out a particular piece as “best”. And although I found a few stories less engaging than others, most still linger in my imagination and I have already gone back to reread some of them several times.
The modern short story has been around since the first half of the nineteenth century. Once a staple of newspapers and magazines it has arguably declined in popularity in the last twenty to thirty or so years. However to paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of its death are greatly exaggerated. Collections such as this showcase a range of established and new talent – they also give rise to this reviewer’s observation that if there was no market for short stories then they wouldn’t still be published. Publishing is, after all, a business.
New Australian Stories 2 includes well-known writers such as Cate Kennedy as well as beginning writers. This anthology has been released just in time for Christmas and it would make a fantastic present, giving the reader a snapshot of a number of writers they may not otherwise have experienced. It’s certainly given me a list of writers to look out for, as either the authors of further short fiction or of novels.
Full list of contributors: Debra Adelaide, Claire Aman, Jon Bauer, Melissa Beit, Tegan Bennett Daylight, Tony Birch, Georgia Blain, Patrick Cullen, Sonja Dechian, Brooke Dunnell, Peggy Frew, Julie Gittus, Marion Halligan, Jacinta Halloran, Karen Hitchcock, Anne Jenner, Myfanwy Jones, Lesley Jorgensen, Cate Kennedy, Zane Lovitt, Scott McDermott, Fiona McFarlane, Jane McGown, A.G. McNeil, Susan Midalia, Jennifer Mills, Meg Mundell, Peta Murray, Ruby J. Murray, Mark O’Flynn, Ryan O’Neill, Paddy O’Reilly, Kate Ryan, Emma Schwarcz, Jane Sullivan, Chris Womersley.
Title: New Australian Stories 2
Author: various, ed by Aviva Tuffield
Publication Date: November 2010