We are not the Same Anymore by Chris Somerville
A collection of short stories by Tasmanian-born writer Chris Somerville, We Are Not the Same Anymore reflects upon loss, trauma, memory and isolation. Although each tale is varied, there is a strong common voice that binds them together, creating an interesting metanarrative in which the shadows of the past continue to trouble the present.
The collection focuses on the simple connections and voids that exist within relationships. ‘Snow on the Mountain’, a particularly interesting story, follows the interaction between a 35-year-old woman and her young neighbour as they drive up a mountain for firewood. In ‘Aquarium’, a man negotiates an uncomfortable exchange with his ex-wife and her new lover for his daughter’s birthday. The birthday present, a goldfish in an ice-cream container, operates as a potential analogy for the claustrophobic nature of suburban life – the drama itself unfolding in the familiar domesticity of the kitchen and the backyard.
The stories themselves are often left without any formal conclusions, creating a feeling of continuity between them. There is also a similarity in mood that provides a space in which one can dwell upon questions of familial loyalty, the gradual demise of relationships, and the uplifting possibility of rebirth in the aftermath of trauma.
Somerville’s collection features a range of different narrators and it is this diversity that best demonstrates the common threads that connect us. His strength as a storyteller resides in his ability to draw upon seemingly simple, ordinary occurrences and routines, and tease out the significance of emotions hidden just below the surface.
Felicity Ford is a bookseller at Readings Carlton.