Book Review – T by Alan Fyfe

August 31, 2022 Leave a comment

Alan Fyfe’s debut novel T is an endearing, off-beat, and ultimately moving caper. Set in and around Mandurah, Western Australia, the narrative punctures numerous stereotypes associated with the ‘drug hijinx’ genre, presenting T for the selfish fuck-up he is. Fyfe offers us an eclectic grab-bag of humorous characters and situations such as the ghost of dead Gulp, crank-addled Cardo and his obeisance to a certain notorious West Australian football player (“Jim Levy”), dead men falling from the sky, and yes, a Shetland pony. In this regard T recalls that zany masterwork A Confederacy of Dunces.

But there’s more to T than this. It’s also a hard-nosed drug narrative that shows us again and again the nature of addiction and the way it warps people’s ability to make sensible decisions. Any thought of a romantic (and redemptive) ending for T and his some-time girlfriend Lori-Bird is thus flushed down the toilet. T manages to avoid romanticizing drug use while humanising drug addicts in a manner not dissimilar to Junky.

And more: weaved into T is the story of the Binjareb people, of Thomas Peel and the misdeeds (and massacre) perpetrated by the British invaders. Fyfe tells this story obliquely and in fragments that work as a counterpoint to the main narrative. There’s a character, Old Stone, who meets T for a drug deal but becomes uneasy at the choice of meeting place. He says to T: “Thought you were a local, you should know, you should own up.” T replies: “Own up to what?” (p164).

This is a powerful book and, just as importantly, an original one.

Published by Transit Lounge, T is available in bookstores and from worthy online retailers.

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Humans of the Wheatbelt 2 is out now!

August 10, 2022 Leave a comment
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This is the second volume of Humans of the Wheatbelt, featuring some amazing and amazingly inspirational interviews with people from all over the Wheatbelt. I had the honour and pleasure of writing up these interviews and co-editing the book, so any typos are on me!

Head over to the Humans of the Wheatbelt site to find out more.

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‘The Empire Never Ended’ in The Saltbush Review

I have a piece of Tassie nonfiction, ‘The Empire Never Ended’, in the latest issue of The Saltbush Review. This is a new mag out from the University of Adelaide. Lots of really interesting work here, all free to read!

Categories: My Writing

‘New Year Island’ Highly Commended in Stringybark Stories Short Story Award 2022

‘New Year Island’, which is the first chapter of my work-in-progress Diemens, recently received a Highly Commended certificate in the Stringybark Short Story Award 2022. The winning and highly commended stories appear in Fruitcake Frenzy from Stringybark Publishing.  

Meanwhile ‘The Empire Never Ended’, my latest nonfiction piece related to Tasmania, has been accepted to appear in an upcoming issue of The Saltbush Review.

Categories: My Writing

‘In lutruwita’ published in Traces and Backstory Journal

November 25, 2021 Leave a comment

My non-fiction piece ‘In lutriwita‘ recently appeared in Issue 16 of Traces, which is available in newsagencies. It is also available to read free online over here at Backstory Journal. This is my first piece of Tasmanian writing to see publication and there will be more like it over the next few years as I work on my PhD in Tasmanian Fiction at Curtin University.

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Complicity City is out now!

August 22, 2021 Leave a comment

Complicity City is a domestic noir in the style of Megan Abbott’s The End of Everything. The book is set in Perth, Western Australia. It is the story of one woman’s quest for justice for her slain friend Klara, and the dark deeds and secret men’s business she uncovers along the way.

Complicity City is available via Amazon.

Categories: My Writing

Book Review – The Last Asbestos Town by Helen Hagemann

Helen Hagemann’s debut novel The Last Asbestos Town is set in a near future where Western Australia is being terrorised by the Asbestos Task Force or ATF, an aggressive and unfeeling government entity intent on demolishing any building thought to contain this notoriously dangerous building material. May and Isaac are twenty-somethings who have recently moved to the country town of Farmbridge to take up residence in an old Girl Guides building. It isn’t long before they’re being harassed by the ATF and the threat of demolition provides one of the major narrative thrusts of the novel.

The relationship between May and Isaac is developed over the course of chapters told from alternating points of view. Isaac is a bit of a dropkick who can’t seem to hang onto a job for long and his drug habit doesn’t help, but he’s intent on saving their house and he isn’t shy of employing some unorthodox methods in achieving this. May has her own business sewing clothes as well as looking after Isaac and she’s definitely the stable influence in their relationship. As the story develops it becomes clear that, for all his faults, Isaac is the driving force in the narrative, however.

May and Isaac don’t just have the ATF to worry about – their home is also haunted by the ghost of a dead woman, Cheryl, who was murdered years before. A lot of effort goes into investigating the origin of what is basically a poltergeist inhabiting the house, and a major plot point hinges on turning Cheryl’s haunting to their advantage. Isaac makes friends with members of the local Aboriginal community and he eventually gets the idea of using their traditional magic to ward off the ATF as well as a pesky drug dealer.

Hagemann’s background is in poetry and this shines through in some excellent descriptive writing throughout, particularly the descriptions of natural settings. Her writing is visceral and the countryside and rivers of Farmbridge burst to life over the course of the story. Between Cheryl’s hauntings and the magic of the Aboriginal shaman, there’s definitely a supernatural cast to The Last Asbestos Town, which offers a nice contrast to the bureaucratic machinations of the ATF. The author’s environmental concerns are present throughout in asides on the polluting of riverways, but this is also tempered by the human cost of arbitrarily bulldozing houses thought to contain asbestos.

The Last Asbestos Town is a fine debut and promises even better to come. A second novel, The Ozone Cafe, is slated for release this October from Adelaide Books in New York.

‘Travel Derangements’ published in Van Diemen Decameron

January 14, 2021 Leave a comment

I have a travel piece about Covid-19 and Tasmania, ‘Travel Derangements’, published online and free to read as part of the Van Diemen Decameron.

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‘Mr Agoo’ published in Not keeping mum

 

 

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I’m very pleased to announce that my short story, ‘Mr Agoo’, has found a home in Not keeping mum: Australian writers tell the truth about perintatal anxiety and depression in poetry, fiction & essay. All proceeds from the sale of the book will go to  Perinatal Anxiety and Depression Australia. I’m especially chuffed to be the only male author in the book. You can check it out here:

https://au.blurb.com/b/10013951-not-keeping-mum-australian-writers-tell-the-truth

 

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Recent Publications: Archipelago and Once: A Selection of short short stories

February 8, 2020 Leave a comment

Some welcome news on the publishing front: three of my short fiction pieces have been selected for inclusion in two anthologies, one in the U.S. and the other here in Western Australia. “Ray”, which was shortlisted for the Sutherland Shire Literary Competition, is slated to appear in the second annual Archipelago  anthology from Seattle publisher Allegory Ridge. “Ray”, set on Tasmania’s Bruny Island, is about one man’s journey as south as he can go with two small children in tow. I’m stoked to have finally found a home for this story and a wonderful home it is too, albeit one on the far side of the globe.

Secondly, two of my flash fiction stories, “Super Snipe” and “The Ballard”, appear in Once: A selection of short short stories from new WA outfit Night Parrot Press. I recently attended the Perth launch for this anthology and met some of the other authors included herein, as well as editors Linda Martin and Laura Keenan. “Super Snipe” is about a love triangle involving a vintage car and “The Ballard” is my love letter to the late, great J. G. Ballard.

I have a handful of other stories doing the rounds presently, so with luck I’ll be able to report on further publication successes in the near future. Here’s hoping!

Categories: My Writing