Father’s Day

Tony Birch

Father's Day
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Father’s Day

Tony Birch

From the author of the much-loved Shadowboxing comes this new collection of short fiction. Tony Birch has an eye for life lived at the margins and in Father’s Day he brings the streets of inner-city Australia to life with humour and compassion.

These short stories cut deep into the flesh of Australian society revealing the minor tragedies and joys of ordinary people. At their heart is a love of life and resilience against violence and loss. But they also focus acutely on the relationships that connect us all, particularly the emotional lives of fathers and sons.

In subtle, understated prose Father’s Day balances the landscape of urban Australia against a masterful portrait of the interior world of men.

Review

Tony Birch won wide acclaim for his first story collection, Shadowboxing, set in 1960s Fitzroy. Father’s Day is another very Melbourne book, with recognisable settings such as Sydney Road, Brunswick and the St Alban’s train line. And again, his characters are drawn from the fringes of society – they’ve either grown up poor and escaped it, or still dwell in commission flats or bedsits. Birch is compassionate to his damaged men and struggling women, but never sentimental. The prose is sparse and contained, his narrators watchful. The reader senses whole universes of submerged feeling and hard experience beneath the surface of the stories.

I especially loved ‘Gifted’, about a man’s reluctant birthday visit to his autistic brother, and the surprise he uncovers; and the title story, ‘Father’s Day’, about a middle-aged man running into his estranged father on the street and subsequent visit, with his own young son, to his flat. It’s about connections made and missed – and the possibility of redemption. A deeply moving and rewarding collection.

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