Getting to grips with original sin
The New Zealand Society of Authors celebrates October 26 – November 1 as Book Week. John C. Ross reviews short stories from a Manawatu author and local publisher. Tony Chapelle. Original Sin and Other Stories. Feilding: Rangitawa Publishing, 2015. Price $25.00.
These are seriously highquality short stories, and others have thought so by awarding quite a few of them prizes or ‘highly commendeds’ in various competitions,.
Their setting is provincial New Zealand. The central character varies greatly from story to story – male or female, younger or older, Pakeha or Māori, yet always there is psychological insight, some degree of compassion, and a grasp of the complexities of human nature, relationships and motives.
The ‘original sin’ of the title story has a young boy discovering that sometimes it’s right to do wrong, through telling a lie to save a situation, and covering up his older sister’s venture into the minefield of teenage sexuality.
Others touch on similar territory. Several are expanded by relating their actions to pictorial art, mainly French paintings. Here and in other ways they benefit from having not too much explanation. Unobtrusively well-shaped, they keep smoothly moving along. A good example is One, in Love with Amy, where the I-narrator looks back to his own nine-year-old self living on his family’s farm with his twelve-year-old sister, and what happened when Amy, a young woman from the city, came to stay.