Letter to George Clooney by Debra Adelaide

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