Hang him when he is not there is the first release by Brisbane-based independent publisher, Savage Motif, who provided a copy of the book for this review.
Hang him when he is not there
, Nicholas John Turner’s debut fiction collection (Savage Motif
2016), challenges and intrigues the reader from its very opening, ‘Prologue’. Is this a prologue to the collection as a whole, a story titled ‘Prologue’, a bit of both, or something else entirely? The conversational tone, a first-person direct address to the second-person reader, exemplifies much of the writing that is to follow, while also hinting at some of the themes the collection explores as a whole—most particularly old age, death, and the transitory places where we are cared for as we wait to die. That ‘last room’, as the prologue’s narrator describes it.
But of course the very idea of “the second-person reader” is a simplification that masks the smart and playful voyage we’ve begun, since the narrative ‘you’ actually implies multiple readers—a fictional addressee in addition to our readerly self—and the question of whether these are intended to be distinct. Later in the book, in the final story ‘All That Remains’, this mode of address returns in a series of passages that are signed-off as letters, and questions of perspective and identity are posed and investigated more directly, which for me brought to mind another literary collection released in 2016, Michelle Cahill’s wonderful Letter to Pessoa.
This review has been published over at Writers Bloc, so go check it out there!
While you’re there, you can also see a call-and-response YouTube mixtape of Australian Love Songs, compiled by myself and Geoff Orton, the founder of Writers Bloc.
Everyone needs a list. And nobody cares about mine. But here it is (in no particular order because that is just dumb):
What have I missed?
27th April 2013
On the ground of Bennelong Point, named after Woollarawarre Bennelong of the Eora people, inside the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall, The Drones performed their classic cover of aboriginal folk singer Kev Carmody’s River of Tears:
A Marrickville brother under legal cover / In his home they gunned him down
Sad river of tears / Two hundred years