Dream Stuff by David Malouf
London: Vintage, 2001 ISBN 0099289903
It's arguable that David Malouf is the greatest living Australian writer. Dream Stuff is a collection of his short stories, and show off not only his flawless technique, but what it is that moves him. Many of these stories are about family, love, and violence.
Malouf has the ability in a few paragraphs to evoke a landscape or a scenario and develop a character or a relationship. Many of the stories revolve around the ways families create a history of avoiding the big issues and focusing on the inconsequential. Malouf cleverly uses the Australian way of unspoken-ness to evoke some of the big issues he wishes to explore.
These issues include the idea of love - what does it mean? Does it last? Should ideology override the bonds of family? What effect does mindless violence have on people?
The main protagonists in the stories vary - a young child, an old man, several women - and all are evoked with skill and beauty. The stories that struck me most revolved around children trying to make sense of their fathers, piecing together their character when they were absent, or trying to understand the decisions they made, with tragic consequences.
Each story is like a highly polished gem, and no matter which way the reader looks at it, this collection sparkles with creativity and style.
Cheers for now, from
A View Over the Bell