Wednesday 20 May 2009

Town / James Roy

Summary - In Town, James Roy turns his hand to the short story, using it to explore the lives of the young residents of an Australian town. This town doesn't have a name. But if it seems familiar, it's because we recognise the people who walk its streets.

From the serendipity of an unexpected moment of connection, to the sadness of leaving home, and the pain of the desperate decisions we make, these stories take a personal and uncompromising look at life. Love and loss, grief, humour and passion. Hope and hopelessness. Thirteen linked short stories, spanning a year in the lives of thirteen young people, from a town near you.

Review - Before this week I had never read a James Roy novel. I had heard his name of course, he had won the NSW Premier's Literary Award in 2008 for this title, but I had never had the pleasure of reading one of his books.

Town is a curious little creature comprised of a series of short stories all revolving around the teens in one small Australian town. Each vignette is from one teen's perspective, written in their voice, telling their story. You'd have to be a complete sourpuss not to revel in the authenticity, the humour, the pathos and the utter delight of this novel. Roy knows small towns, there was a feeling of familiarity and yet, the characters were all unique.

It is easy to be captivated by the novel. One vignette would have you chuckling over a small victory, the next you would find yourself tossing between anger, frustration and sadness within a couple of pages. The tales would intertwine with characters appearing to large and small degrees in other's stories just like an actual country town.

A whole range of subject matter is tackled - disability, family disintegration, death and grief, racism and sexuality. However, you will not, at any time, feel as though you are being hit over the head with the dumb cliche stick. Roy has a natural style and authentic voice that works simply with the stories he's telling. He sweeps you along for the ride with relatable characters that you will find something to like in them, no matter how small.

This may have been my first Roy but it will not be my last. Colour me impressed and eager for more!

Published - October 1, 2007
Format - Paperback, 312 pages
Publisher - University of Queensland Press
Origin - Australia
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Summer said...

ooo sounds good. I love a good short story cycle!

Anthony said...

One of my favorite books, this one. And I'm not just saying that because we're catching up at Reading Matters next week. One story in this actually caused me to snort lemonade out through my nose while reading...

Great Review, Adele. Well worth the 2 hours effort!