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Mandy Beau­mont HA­CHETTE, $29

Mandy Beau­mont brings a clear, poetry-honed voice to 21 de­pic­tions of lone­li­ness, sur­vival and self-dis­cov­ery in this de­but col­lec­tion. While many of the short sto­ries take place in uniden­ti­fied places, mostly ur­ban or sub­ur­ban, else­where the cav­ernous blue skies and per­sis­tent heat of her home town Bris­bane mag­nify the empti­ness that her char­ac­ters — mostly women — con­front. Like a Bris­bane sum­mer, the tone can be re­lent­less: mo­tifs re­peat­ing; nar­ra­tives un­bro­ken by di­a­logue; the sto­ries blend­ing into a melan­cholic haze heavy with un­healthy re­la­tion­ships and dam­aged fam­i­lies. Drown­ing in Thick Air and the ti­tle story are among the stand­outs. One of the long­est, Bright Light and All Bril­liance, of­fers a re­fresh­ing break as it plays with form and rhythm. Sim­i­larly, He Tells Her of the Beau­ti­ful Lines, and else­where, spec­u­la­tive brushes aim for fresh per­spec­tive, but sadly for the char­ac­ters in their hon­estly drawn and bru­tal mis­ery, there is lit­tle es­cape in here.

JA­SON NAHRUNG VER­DICT: Sharp slices of life

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