Synopses & Reviews
Shortlisted for the Queensland Literary Awards, Steele Rudd Award for Australian Short Fiction.
In the Shade of the Shady Tree is a collection of stories set in the Western Australian wheatbelt, a vast grain-growing area that ranges across the southwestern end of the immense Australian interior. The stories offer glimpses into the lives of the people who call this area home, as we journey from just north of the town of Geraldton to the far eastern and southern shires of the region.
Cast against a backdrop of indigenous dispossession, settler migration, and the destructive impact of land-clearing and monocultural farming methods, the stories offer moments of connection with the inhabitants, ranging from the matter-of-fact to the bizarre and inexplicable. Something about the nature of the place itself wrestles with all human interactions and affects their outcomes. The land itself is a dominant character, with dust, gnarled scrubland, and the need for rain underpinning human endeavor. Inflected with both contemporary ideas of short fiction and the everyman” tradition of Australian storytelling, this collection will introduce many readers to a new landscape and unforgettable characters.
John Kinsella can see into the heart of the country, and the evidence of these taut, complex stories is that what he sees there is both ferocious and unresolved.”
The chief strength of this large group of 33 glimpses in Shady Tree
is the direct writing style, a frankness driven by Kinsellas complicated sense of purpose. . . . The book is a story collage that evokes the range of loneliness and togetherness of the regions people. . . . Powerful.”
"Unusual fiction in a strange place of extremes. . . . These stories read like slices of life, each with real place names. Yet the stories' endings are fictionally important, meaningful or mysterious, always unexpected. . . . (An) extraordinary collection.”
NewPages Book Reviews
In the tradition of the long line of small-town serials, dating back through Sherwood Anderson and William Faulkner, most of the stories in In the Shade of the Shady Tree
explore the dysfunctional undercurrents that characterize rural life in literature.”
The stories are full of secrets, both open and closed, and they are fascinated with how they operate in this kind of (rural Australian) society. This leads to a mood which is sometimes gothic and something more emaciated, like the hungry banality that is so unnerving in the work of Raymond Carver
. (The) cumulative effect is highly satisfying and affecting. It is yet another crucial work by this important Australian author.”
About the Author
John Kinsellas highly regarded books of poetry include Peripheral Light: Selected and New Poems and Jam Tree Gully. He is also the author of numerous plays and collections of short stories and essays. He taught at Kenyon College in Ohio and now is a Fellow of Churchill College, Cambridge University, and a Professorial Research Fellow at the University of Western Australia. He lives at Jam Tree Gully in Western Australia.