Sunday, January 17, 2010


"Kangaroo" is a very short story, barely five pages in the small bound form of Lies and Stories. I don’t know if it appeared anywhere but in this first short story collection.

I’d not read this one before. My uncle, my mother's older brother, told me – in passing, in a letter – that "Kangaroo" is his story. I’m not sure how much my mother fictionalized it. I need to talk to my uncle.

In the story, a young man on a Harley with a sidecar, traveling through the Australian outback, hits a kangaroo, but doesn’t kill it. Certain that he has irrevocably injured it, he tries to kill it, thinking he can use its hide, but even with a gun he fails to kill the animal again.

My mother highlights both the cockiness, insecurity and sensitivity of the young man, and the tension between city folk and outback folk.

Monday, January 11, 2010

"Fred Crawley Returns Home"

I can't help but read my mother's writing and look for fictionalized reality. I read this, and I picture my grandmother's little pink house in Eastwood with the laundry room around back. I see the red roofs of Sydney.

"The women of Turtle Street called Fred Crawley unnatural." The story opens with two women, gossiping, talking from their fences, as they do every day. I see the fences on that street. Was it Fifth Avenue? The fences with gates that were always clicked shut because it was rude, wrong, unkempt to leave them open.

A nine-page story read so quickly. I see bits of my grandfather, whom I never knew, in Fred Crawley. He admires the British. He memorizes the kings and queens of England. He is a clerk. He loves books. He is odd. And I kind of know what is coming before it does. He will disappear in some way by the end.

I didn't expect the actual near truth, when the two women find him, in the laundry room at the back.