Diminuendo by Evan Johnstone978-1-922261-76-2, 978-1-922261-90-8 **Price includes shipping within Australia**
Diminuendo is the third collection of Evan Johnstone’s stubbornly original work. Stories contemplate romantic staples such as the primacy of love and the consolations of art, among other compensations for the occasional difficulty encountered in life; stories of crime, clerical life, death and restaurant reviewing complete a darkly frothy mix. All are tinged with doubt, irony and a playfully surreal realism, founded in a distinctively poetic prose.
Some of the stories are parodies of genre fiction, such as crime and romance, a witty engagement with a literary tradition while also developing the stories in new directions.
In ‘The Greengrocer’s Daughter’, caseworkers at the NSW Department of Community Services suspect, given that Australia does not have an indigenous monkey population, that the brains of babies or young children are being used to supplement the lucrative export of monkey brains. An undercover operative, with whom the narrator strikes up a friendship, is obliged to pass himself off as a monkey to investigate the case.
In ‘Home Dentistry’, a man asks an old friend, an investigative librarian, to clear his name after he is arrested for the murder of his wife; insights into life and relationships abound as she clears up the mystery, despite his obsession with dentistry.
In ‘Visits to the Country’, Inspector Kant (previously met in Abandoned Places) attempts to solve another murder, this one involving a rape and two murders and an outbreak of Gnosticism in a small village on the south coast of NSW.
There are a number of diverse stories of romance and relationships which skirt and embrace the subject ingeniously. For instance, ‘Romance’ and ‘Analogues of Displacement’ provide a few glimpses of romantic love, encompassing the pain of lost love, unrequited love, requited love, and love between people who have no interest in each other at all.
In ‘Mrs McCready’, an old woman grieves for her husband during his time in a nursing home, and after his death, and recalls fondly their early years together.
‘A Counsellor’ is a satirical look at a relationship counsellor who appears to believe that romantic relationships, especially those involving sex, are impossible. He seems to doubt the wisdom of his clients even aspiring to a happy relationship, yet welcomes their visits on financial and entertainment grounds. He is also, paradoxically and hypocritically, unfaithful to his wife.
Trim size: 6 x 9 (15.24 x 22.86 cm)
Page count: 340
Internal pages: B&W
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