Thursday, August 02, 2012

In the grip of a story

In a holiday cottage where they have planted a jacaranda in the centre of a backyard instead of a Hills Hoist and a festooning pot plant in a blue toilet in the carport, someone has left behind an anthology of stories. I think I might read two or three during my short stay. I read them all and rediscover the short story genre. Long enough to lose yourself for a little time, but not too much of a commitment in a busy or scattered life, I had forgotten how delightful they are.

The anthology is 10 Short Stories You Must Read in 2010 (Australia Council for the Arts 2010). It’s 2012. I enjoy most of the stories. Some of them I can’t put down. One of them freaks me out. 

My favourites are Maggie Alderson’s Dress, Medium (p. 71), Craig Silvey’s The Amber Amulet (p. 151) and Rachael Treasure’s The Evolution of Sadie Smith (p. 191). I love the vintage dress shop in the first, the swish of fabrics and the swoosh into the lives of former owners, from a touch of a hem or crisp collar. In the second pick I follow The Masked Avenger around his street when he should be in bed laughing at every ‘hero act’. He has a great heart, and a great young mind. Then I cheer on Sadie as thanks to a strange parcel involving an iPod and ‘Egghard Toll’ she learns to breathe again. She quickly evolves from a bullied farmer’s wife (now widow) to an adventurous 42 year-old working with young neighbours and learning to play again.

It’s Judy Nunn who rattles me. Not with her story, her murder mystery, her insane – or maybe not – professor who kills, bones and blends his wife before pouring her down the toilet causing havoc with the street’s sewerage system. No, it’s the name of the professor’s wife. On the second page we find that ‘Eileen Jameson seemed a very nice woman’. That’s a bit close to home I think. Not only is it the name of my aunt who died at age 29 – albeit Jameson with an ‘e’ and not Jamison with an ‘i’ but it is almost my own name (pre-marriage). A couple of pages later she is more formally identified as Eileen Elizabeth Jameson. That’s when it becomes really bizarre - my full birth name - albeit Jameson with an ‘e’ and not Jamison with an ‘i’. (I’ve never been known as Eileen – but that’s another story.)

I see I've forgotten to note the title - but then I am still rattled. By the name thing and the grip of a story too.

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