- Publisher: Finlay Lloyd
- Edition: Print
- Available in: Paperback
- ISBN: 9780987592934
- Published: October 3, 2016
Six is John’s latest book of short stories by the publisher’s Finlay Lloyd.
Whispering Gums has a lovely review of the collection here.
The Australian Book Review has an article about the collection here.
And here’s what the Sydney Morning Herald had to say about John’s latest book of short stories, Six:
Each of the stories in Six begins arrestingly. In the first, The Day My Father Died, we are not yet to that point, but daughter Kate is being interrogated, as has been the pattern of her life, by a domineering father. A rich but retired senior partner in a law firm, who had abandoned music after being told that he could become no more than “a fine, second-tier concert performer”, he is separated from Kate’s mother, although she still tends to his needs. In melancholy repetition of the past, Kate has foresworn a likely career as a pianist to become a teacher, but by choice, not through affronted vanity. The family is diminished by the first of a series of lost children who feature in this collection. They die violently and dolefully. Friends of the family – the father’s doctor, Kate’s sometime lover – complicate a narrative that Clanchy handles with notable assurance.
In Vigil he opts for a change of social register. A cop in a Queensland country town, demoted for professional reasons that were tied to infidelity, keeps watch over a crime scene during a long night in which he reviews the ruins of his marriage for reasons that seem to be little more than accidents, however destructive their consequences. The mood shifts again in Slow Burn, a comic performance that misleads us from the first line: “Daryl Turtle was ill. Dangerously, perhaps fatally ill”. (He has the flu, though he thinks that it might be SARS.) Clanchy sours the slapstick comedy with an acute observation of how anxiety, self-obsession and want of occupation can slowly waste the nerves. In Daddy’s Girl, Clanchy examines how public events (a terrorist bombing in Bangkok) grossly damage but do not altogether destroy the continuing lives of two unnatural survivors – parents who have suffered the death of one of their children.
Convoluted comedy, together with a subtle portrait of loneliness, animate True Glue. The protagonist, Dale, is a postman with affinities to David Foster’s memorable hero of two novels, D’Arcy Oliveres. The tenderly intended enterprise in which Dale engages is intended not to assuage his mother’s grief at the loss of her other son, but to beguile her into thinking that it had never happened. Dale is incidentally determined to disprove the assertion of his oldest mate that “the letter is dead”. Checked up on by a bean counter from the city, Dale refutes the complaints about how slowly he works with an affectionate account of the people with whom he tarries, and often consoles on his deliveries. The last story in Six in some ways takes us back to the first, in that a family secret – almost so obvious that it ought to have been suspected – is at its core. In his psychological acuity, stylistic variety and an unpretentious and justified confidence in his story-telling gifts, Clanchy has produced one of the best recent collections of short fiction.