November 2007

Arts & Letters

‘Mini Shots’ 1–9 by various authors

By Carlie Jennings

Violence, obsession, addiction: these themes thread together the new Mini Shots series, with often disquieting results. Each pocket-sized story - individually bound with striking cover art by Melbourne photographer Bronwen Hyde - is absorbing, but taken together they tend to the bleak. In Emmett Stinson’s ‘Something So Helpless’, David rallies against a seedy society of hostility and decay to rescue a kitten: “He was Pandora in reverse - this shoebox contained the last bit of innocence in existence. It was the evil of the world that was trying to get in.” David’s life is claustrophobic and cruel; there are stabbings and shootings on his doorstep. His concern for the kitten reassures us that he isn’t wholly inured to it all.

In Lucy Lawson’s ‘Juice’, two lovers try to hold a toxic world at (matchstick-thin) arm’s length through fasting. Rachael quarantines herself from “plastics, power lines and pesticides” in a claw-footed porcelain bathtub in the backyard. In their self-imposed isolation, these characters are “half-awake”, “unbalanced”, “dizzy” - wanting finally to be “empty of everything”.  Similarly, the characters in Ed Moreno’s ‘Pine’ long for escape. Theirs is an olfactory journey, where pine-perfumed disinfectant only thinly veils the stink of a less salubrious reality: grubby video booths in a strip club, drugs, desperation. Riikka longs for the warmth and familiarity of her “gran’s jasmine-scented perfume” and resents the “cardboard pine tree dangling from the rear-view mirror”, which has “lost all its scent”.

But there is, happily, also some hope: in Sarah Jansen’s ‘Dragon Dust’, Velvet itches and chafes against a world where she is tethered to the “hunger and noise and dirt” of her children, moored to a town in which the “wooden houses and buildings all seemed directed inwards”. She escapes to the hills to breathe and swing her arms “in wide, exaggerated arcs”, where she is finally, gloriously, released.

Each Mini Shot resonates in its own haunting key. These stories, all of them by emerging Australian authors and released across the year by a small independent publishing house, are often raw and demanding: ten-minute fiction with a lot to say.

Cover: November 2007

November 2007

From the front page

There is no planet B

#ClimateStrike’s calls for action gain momentum

Image of ‘The Godmother’

‘The Godmother’ by Hannelore Cayre

A sardonic French bestseller about a godmother, in the organised crime sense of the word

Image from ‘Ad Astra’

Interplanetary, mostly ordinary: James Gray’s ‘Ad Astra’

Brad Pitt’s interstellar family-therapy odyssey struggles with earthbound sentiment

Detail of Yanni Florence photograph

Losing yourself

How can we be transformed by music if online platforms mean we will always remain ourselves?


In This Issue

Words: Shane Maloney | Illustration: Chris Grosz

Redmond Barry & Edward Kelly

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

Checkmate

‘Pigeons: The Fascinating Saga of the World’s Most Revered and Reviled Bird’ by Andrew D Blechman

Illustration by Jeff Fisher.

Lazarus taxa


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Our largest sexual organ: Amee Baird’s ‘Sex in the Brain’

We know surprisingly little about how our brains orchestrate our sex lives

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Losing yourself

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Tasmanian torments: Jennifer Kent’s ‘The Nightingale’

The Babadook director talks about the necessity of violence in her colonial drama

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‘Here Until August’

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The Australian author’s second short-story collection focuses on the precipice of change rather than its culmination

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‘The Godmother’ by Hannelore Cayre

A sardonic French bestseller about a godmother, in the organised crime sense of the word

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‘Lambs of God’

Director Jeffrey Walker blends ripe melodrama and Gothic thriller in his TV series about three wayward nuns

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‘The White Girl’ by Tony Birch

An emotionally eloquent novel about the necessary inheritance of strength in Indigenous women


Read on

Image from ‘Ad Astra’

Interplanetary, mostly ordinary: James Gray’s ‘Ad Astra’

Brad Pitt’s interstellar family-therapy odyssey struggles with earthbound sentiment

Image of ‘Sachiko’ my Miwa Yanagi

‘Here We Are’ at the Art Gallery of NSW

An opportunity for rethinking the position of women in contemporary art

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How good is Gladys Liu?

Scott Morrison ducks and weaves questions about the embattled MP

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Venice International Film Festival 2019

Théo Court’s masterful ‘Blanco en Blanco’ is a bright point in a largely lacklustre line-up


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