Thirteen short stories set in thirteen different locations around the world. Individual stories set within key places between 1855 and 1988. Individuals whose lives have been shaped by significant external events, including conflict, hardship, or injury.
Each story is different, or is it?
People are persecuted, or damaged by war. They try to move beyond what has happened to them. Others are trying to help those already damaged. These stories are relentless: there are no easy decisions, there are no decisions without consequences, no happy endings.
I know enough about some events (such as the bombing of Hiroshima, and war in Afghanistan) to understand immediately the setting for ‘August’, and ‘Moon tide’. I found ‘The Mouleuse’ confronting in a different way: an officer acquires syphilis during the Crimean War. A husband is uncomfortable with his wife’s plaster modelling of the officer’s chancres, but they need the money to put food on their table. Each story has a twist.
Did I enjoy these stories? No. Being reminded of human deficiencies is always discomforting. Did I admire the storytelling? Absolutely. Ms Giorgi has created thirteen different snapshots of the world, reminding the reader that events that can seem abstract to those of us at a distance have consequences. And those consequences shape individual lives in ways that are not always obvious.
As individuals, we try to survive.
I will be rereading some of these stories. Only some? Yes, because a few of these stories are already now in my mind: ‘Black eyes’ (Istanbul, Turkey, 1955); ‘Visitor from Hollywood’ (Lodz, Poland, 1966); and ‘The Sting’ (Narva, Estonia, 1919).
Note: My thanks to UWA Publishing for providing me with a free copy of this book for review purposes.