Here Until August: Stories

Josephine Rowe

Here Until August: Stories
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Here Until August: Stories

Josephine Rowe

These superbly crafted stories follow the fates of characters who, by choice or by force, are travelling beyond the boundaries of their known worlds. We meet them negotiating reluctant partings, navigating uncertain returns or biding the disquieting calm that often precedes decisive action.

An agoraphobic French émigré watches disturbing terrorist footage as she minds a dog named Chavez. A young couple weather the interiority of a Montreal winter, more attuned to the illicit goings-on of their neighbours than to their own hazy, unfolding futures. A Melbourne writer of real-estate listings reflects on the stifling power of shared history as she wonders what life might be like over the fence. Other stories play out in places just beyond the brink of familiarity: flooded townships and distant lakes, sunlit woodlands or paths bright with ice, places of unpredictable access and spaces scrubbed from maps.

From the Catskill Mountains to Snowy Mountains, the abandoned island outports of Newfoundland to the sprawl of an Australian metropolis, this scintillating collection from one of Australia’s most gifted writers shows us how the places we inhabit shape us in ways both remote and intimate.

Review

In Here Until August, a young man rows across an azure lake above a sunken town, carrying the ashes of his mother in a biscuit tin; an insular couple weathers an icy Canadian winter, listening to the comings and goings of their neighbours as they wait for spring; a taxi driver drives a once-drowned man cross-country; and a prodigal son returns home to a broken city. With these stories, and others like them, the internationally acclaimed author Josephine Rowe weaves a beautifully crafted collection that leaves the reader breathless with its beauty.

Every sentence in this book, in fact, every word, feels carefully considered and delicately placed, and the result is a collection of stories both individual and cohesive as a collected work. These stories are elegant, intimate, dreamy – and they’re best savoured, not devoured in one hit (although, that’s tempting). Each story is unique, with its own style, its own voice, and yet it is testament to Rowe’s skill as a writer that they are all unmistakably hers, and all unmistakably belong to this collection. Rowe is a writer fully coming into her strength; her writing is subtle, but devastating – she speaks to those truths universally felt but little spoken; shines a light in dusty, still corners; finds the unspoken in the gaps between words. It’s a strong writer who can craft a collection that feels so cohesive.

Stand-outs are ‘Post-structuralism for Beginners’, ‘The Once-Drowned Man’ and ‘Sinkers’, but you’d be hard-pressed to find a story in Here Until August that doesn’t sing with its own power.


Georgia Brough is the digital content coordinator and Readings Prize Manager.

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