Including: Shaun Tan • Scot Gardner • Arwa Abousamra • Trudy White • Kate Miller-Heidke • Keir Nuttall • Felicity Castagna • Amie Kaufman • Alice Pung • Gayle Kennedy • Davina Bell • Meg Caddy • Courtney Barnett • Barry Jonsberg • Meg McKinlay • Kyle Hughes-Odgers • Shivaun Plozza • Ali Cobby Eckermann • Margo Lanagan • Wil Wagner • Lizzie Wagner • Tony Birch • Leanne Hall • PM Freestone • Andrea Hirata
‘Where the Shoreline Used to be’ is a collection of short stories from Australia and beyond, edited by Pam McIntyre and Susan La Marca, who also edited the 2012 short story collection, ‘Things A Map Won't Show You’.
I loved McIntyre and La Marca’s first short story collection, and was so happy to see them come out with a second book that’s perfectly oriented for the schools market. There are long and short-short stories, poems and artwork within – all of which will stir the imaginings of young readers, and hopefully encourage them to dabble themselves in this wonderful medium.
As with ‘Map’, ‘Shoreline’ is pretty free-form thematically – these authors, poets and illustrators are allowed to run rampant with that beautiful title, though a sense of time more than place feels to have the slight upper hand.
Margo Lanagan’s ‘The Queen’s Notice’ is visceral and feral-delightful, reading like something of a ‘Romulus and Remus’ foundation myth;
'It was true, he did smell, strongly and cleanly of deep earth and queen-favour. His mind was beginning to fill with other things, as a quick-tunnel trickles full of loose earth, but he still had the queen’s scene in all his skin-folds, creeping in his mouth-hairs, raw and clear, warm and sweet.' —Margo Lanagan, The Queen’s Notice
Amie Kaufman’s autobiographical ‘I Swear This Part is True’, cuts to the very heart of storytelling in the first place, when it comes to our own histories;
'We are our own myth makers, every one of us. This is why, when it comes to our stories, the manner of the telling matters very much. Tell it right, and you can shape and create a small part of yourself.' —Amie Kaufman, I Swear This Part is True
Arwa Abousamra’s very personal ‘Muslim Footprint’ navigates her arrival in Australia at the age of nine. She came from Saudia Arabia where she was born but that wouldn’t recognise her citizenship – and then she goes through her years of schooling when she was both made to feel like an outsider, and proud of her heritage.
The whole book is full of delicious morsels – there’s not one story in there that I didn’t love. But to pick out a very few more …
Kate Miller-Heidke’s 2009 song ‘Caught in the Crowd’ has the lyrics reproduced, and as a poem it blends in beautifully with time setting – of those moments in school when you’re more than a little ashamed of the way you behaved. Those who’ve fallen in love with Shivaun Plozza’s debut novel ‘Frankie’, will revel in her short story here called ‘The Point’ – about the sheer awkwardness of being in close proximity to other people’s families while being an interloper on vacation with them. The opening line – ‘the caravan stinks of tinned pineapple,’ – was so evocative, I could feel the humidity from the page. One of my favourite Australian artists – Kyle Hughes-Odgers – illustrates a short story by Meg McKinlay (‘How To Make A Bird’).
Pam McIntyre and Susan La Marca have turned their keen editorial eyes to delivering another fantastic collection of Australian short stories that are perfect for school study, and pure enjoyment too.
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