Saturday, 4 April 2020

Book Review: A Lovely and Terrible Thing by Chris Womersley

A Lovely and Terrible Thing
Chris Womersley

Publisher: Pan Macmillan Australia
Imprint: Picador
Publication date: 23rd April 2019
Genre: Fiction / Short Stories
Pages: 288
RRP: $29.99 AUD
Format read: uncorrected paperback
Source: Courtesy of the publisher

In bestselling author Chris Womersley's first short fiction collection, twenty macabre and deliciously enjoyable tales linked by the trickle of water that runs through them all will keep readers spellbound until their final, unexpected and unsettling twist...

Collections of short stories are hard to review. There will always be stories you loved and others you didn’t.

My interest in short story collections came after reading Roald Dahl’s Kiss Kiss, a collection of truly macabre short stories. There is an element of instant gratification with short stories.

A Lovely and Terrible Thing, a collection of 20 short stories, although entertaining didn’t quite live up to my expectations. The stories were strange and unsettling centred around drugs, mental illness, death, loss, family and relationships. Womersley’s characters are quite often bereaved, a loved one simply missing without explanation.
The stories will leave you with unanswered questions as he leaves the endings hazy, you are left to imagine what happens next. As is the case with my favourite story, The House of Special Purpose, where a couple’s son-in-law is left locked in a backyard compound he helped his in-laws build.

As you are left to read between the lines it is quite often what is not spelled out in the story that is most macabre.

A Lovely and Terrible Thing will appeal to readers who already enjoy anthologies and those who are struggling to concentrate on a full length novel.


Photo credit: Goodreads

Chris Womersley's debut novel, The Low Road, won the Ned Kelly Award for Best First Fiction. His second novel, Bereft, won the Indie Award for Best Fiction, the ABIA Award for Literary Fiction and was short-listed for the Miles Franklin Award, the Gold Dagger Award for International Crime Fiction and the ALS Gold Medal for Literature. His third novel, Cairo, was longlisted for the Dublin IMPAC Award. Chris's short fiction has appeared in Granta, The Best Australian Stories, Meanjin and Griffith Review and has won or been shortlisted for numerous prizes. He lives in Melbourne.

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