Letter to George Clooney

Debra Adelaide

Letter to George Clooney
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Letter to George Clooney

Debra Adelaide

Debra Adelaide’s new collection of short stories intricately maps both the sublime and the mundane landscape of ordinary lives, with her trademark dark wit and luminous intelligence.

In Glory in the Flower, distinguished but disillusioned British poet, Bill, crosses the world on the promise of a prestigious literary festival only to find himself roughing it with an unlikely group of amateur poets, with surprising results. One man’s attempt to negotiate the Australian taxation system reads like a noir thriller in The Pirate Map, and the minefield of internet dating in Chance artfully balances the absurd and dark side of the human psyche.

Harder Than Your Husband
follows a serious-minded administrator as he attempts to navigate the induction of a new, and rather perplexing, employee. And the final eclipsing story, Letter to George Clooney, opens a door into a world of terror and deprivation: searing in its devastating restraint, it demonstrates why Adelaide is one of the finest Australian writers of her generation.

Review

Debra Adelaide’s new collection of short stories, Letter to George Clooney, is wonderfully dark and humorous, making wicked fun at the familiar typecasts of poets, internet dating, government warnings, signage and the tax department. I particularly enjoyed her portrait of British poet Bill, in the story ‘Glory in the Flower’, which sees him travel to a literary festival with expectations as hopeful as a teenage boy.

Adelaide portrays recognisable people in her work, but her most successful skill as a writer is her ability to balance detail with restraint. This style allows the message of each story to slowly envelope the reader in a wider context of humanity. The final story, ‘Letter to George Clooney’, is breathtaking for this reason. As the story progresses, it dawns that this is a tale of depravation and terror, and finely balanced with Adelaide’s humour is an understated masterpiece: it is the best short story I have read this year.

Adelaide is the author of several novels, including the bestselling The Household Guide to Dying, and her collection here is a treat. Take one story with each glass of wine before bed, but there is a warning: your dreams will have a twist in them.


Chris Gordon is the Events Coordinator for Readings and is a committee member of The Stella Prize.

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