Inkerman and Blunt, RRP $28.99
Happy Valentine’s Day MRB Readers.
(Or just Happy Saturday if the previous phrase has raised your hackles, please relax, and know that the following review will not bring in any additional mentions of the love heart and rose day but it is a review of short stories about love so best be prepared for at least some mentions of Eros.)
Australian Love Stories, edited by Cate Kennedy, is a collection of stories about love, and the exploration of love’s many faces and perspectives. These stories touch on enduring love, lost love, unrequited love, vulnerable love, same-sex love, and love caught in the moment. The stories are well written and diverse – some are breezy, some are thoughtful, some paint a moody picture, and most are nuanced enough that for best effect they need to be read thoughtfully. They are filled with frank emotion and delicate imagery which echoes on after the book is closed, or in my case the tablet is put in sleep mode.
Although titled Australian Love Stories, many of the stories have only a light dusting of the details of Australian life – sometimes just fleeting references to Australian plants or birds. Instead, the stories serve to represent a few of the experiences of love that occur in a multi-cultural society like Australia. As often, when examining the Australian experience a multitude of locations emerge within these stories, both the physical locations of the bush and the urban, and the intangible locations of the heart, and of memory and dream, which make up Australia.
The biggest strength of Australian Love Stories is the selection (29 of a staggering 445 submissions) and the order of the stories, something which is necessary for any short story collection to go from good to great, but the latter especially is incredibly difficult to achieve if my reading experiences have been anything to go by. And this collection achieves the transition of good to great by grouping the stories under seven phrases and within these the stories flow effortlessly from one to the next, allowing this anthology to be dipped into for both short and long periods of reading. This structure also encourages my forgiveness when a particular story ends too soon and I am left wishing for just one more revelation of the character’s lives and fates.
This collection is a beautiful and emotional mix of tales of love which I would recommend for readers whose interest lies in the exploration of emotion and relationships.