A BRILLIANT TALE COMPOSED OF CARVERESQUE DIALOGUE
someone to make my coffee.’’ There is a flourish of this kind of zany energy in a few stories, especially the shorter ones, and a few lyrical embellishments should have been reined in: lines such as ‘‘ moving us along like a hissing snake, swallowing all our minds in a milky swirl of white poison’’, for example.
Squirming beneath the surface of much of this collection is the notion of inherited guilt, and bound within this is a fair dose of perversion and depravity.
A couple of stories, however, such as Daughters of Vesuvius, deal with sinister sexual transgressions in a way that lacks a richer texture and nuance.
Patric’s best stories are the longer ones driven by character, with more carefully developed narratives and settings. Murmur is a brilliant tale comprised entirely of Carveresque dialogue. Intelligent and funny, it’s a unique account of the first tremor of love.
The Eternal City is another excellent story. Veronica flies in to Rome to meet up with her boyfriend, Evan, who has been holidaying in Italy. Veronica is ill by the time she arrives at the hotel, but Evan stumbles in hours later, drunk. What follows is a brief portrait of a relationship going nowhere and the occasions of submission that verge into humiliation.
The titular story is the most compelling and memorable. Las Vegas for Vegans is a slick account of a desolate man’s final holiday to Las Vegas, with a thrilling conclusion that does what most short fiction fails to: shock.
The Swarm is the second impressive collection of stories I’ve read lately from Puncher & Wattmann. Sydney writer Andy Kissane delivers 11 stories, vaguely interlinked, located in urban milieus across the country.
The men and women of Kissane’s stories grapple with issues of self-esteem. There’s a