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Thursday, January 9, 2014

Book Recommendation: Chris Somerville WE ARE NOT THE SAME ANYMORE . University of Queensland Press, St Lucia, 2013 (183 pages).

This is Chris Somerville’s first collection of short stories. It consists of fourteen sparsely written, sparklingly clear stories. The stories are highly engaging, unpredictable and are often propelled by naïve, highly vulnerable and sometimes unreliable narrators.

Most of the characters in the book are damaged in some way and in their struggle to find meaning through their interplay with others, they usually come away more fucked-up. As in real life, the endings of the stories are left dangling like loose strands of spaghetti and unresolved.

My favourite stories included ‘Trouble’ and ‘Sleeping with the light on’. In ‘Trouble’ an unnamed narrator and his wife Karen hear their neighbours fighting and later a rock the size of a tennis ball is thrown through their open bedroom window. The husband goes to investigate. In ‘Sleeping with the light on’ the house next door is burgled and Lillian and James invite their neighbours Hannah and Franklin over for dinner. The story works by dramatic irony, particularly when Hannah makes a surprising revelation to Lillian about her love for another woman.

This is a cleverly written collection of short stories from an emerging Australian writer. The tone is a beautiful, quirky blend of humour and sadness.

Buy the collection of short stories here:,%20Chris

Take a Look Inside. The first three short stories ‘Earthquake’, ‘Aquarium’ and ‘Snow on the Mountain’ can be downloaded from UQP here:

Hear the first launch of his book in Brisbane before a supportive audience. Somerville responds to questions about his collection and reads from his short story ‘Aquarium’:

Download audio: Somerville reads his short story “Giraffe’ from the collection here:

Find a short Crikey interview with Somerville here about his first book:

Here’s a link to Somerville’s blog I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT ELSE TO DO: