This piece is from Chapter Ten of my novel (novella?) manuscript, but I adapted in a way that I hope works well on its own. It seemed like a good fit for Peril Magazine’s “We’re Queer Here” series and thankfully they agreed!
Head over to Peril Magazine to check it out and browse the rest of the series while you’re there.
“The hum of photocopiers turns into something marine, mournful as the deep sea. White mechanical whales.”
The young man believed he might draw a map of a city beyond the reach of normal perception and only faintly recalling the city where he had lived his early life. The suburbs and districts in the new city would be sized and spaced according to the intensity of the poetic feeling he had once felt in this or that part of another Melbourne. Thus, a huge glowing core of what he called vivid imagery—with its centre where Fitzroy might have been—would spread outwards and drive to the farthest margins the shrivelled remains of places where a young man had once tried and failed to feel what was expected of him.
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.
Selected quotes from the memoir piece ‘Moon River’
“Midnight. It is now official: New Year’s Day 2008. The sky is fretted with glitter trails and the soft pop of slow-falling balls of burning gold, but I am fixated on a gilded arc of the Brisbane River. Though the moon is waning, one week past full, the water looks like the bullion-sluice at the Mt Morgan mine, a Midas-flow I saw once and will never forget.”
“Nose pressed against the glass of the walkway, I stare at the river. This tangled ribbon, brown and muddy by day, gilded by night, is the thread that ties my childhood to my now, my beginnings to the ending bearing down like a watercourse in flood.”
“What an amazing, complicated, unpredictable, enduring and fragile thing is memory. It is like a river. It can silt up and need dredging, it can flood and destroy, it can lose its way. It is like a river of moonlight, evanescent. When it goes dark, navigation is treacherous. The journey from source to final sea loses meaning.”