REVIEW: FINE BY MICHELLE WRIGHT

Due to time restraints while I work on my own novel, reviews on this site will now comprise a book blurb and a short response.

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I’ve come to enjoy reading short stories more and more as I experiment with the form, and there was a lot for me to learn in Fine by Michelle Wright. Here’s the blurb:

Fine shines a light into the quiet corners of human life. By observing the traumas, doubts and isolation of its characters, the book reveals the strength and fragility of people and relationships.

These stories explore the silent sorrows, desires and regrets that we choose to hide when we say that we are ‘fine’. As they describe moments big and small in the lives of ordinary people, they invite us to think about who we are when no one is looking.

I remember being told that a short story is a snapshot – seconds or moments captured. Michelle Wright demonstrates this aptly. Her pieces are illuminating and absorbing, delicately woven to entice readers to a deeper connection … and then they end. A brilliant example is “Taken” – the last line is a sharp observation of grief and pain. “Family Block” also stood out for me – it’s a raw and convincing peek at abandonment from a small child’s perspective: “Sometimes he jumps on her and gives her a chocolate kiss back and tells her he loves her this much, even if she did almost eat the whole row and he only got one square.” And then there’s “In quiet moments”, which has a bleakly pragmatic voice that is saddening to hear.

For lovers of short story, or those practising the craft, I recommend this book. Not only will the stories draw you in, but you’ll learn a lot about the form.

Available from good bookstores (RRP $29.99). My copy was courtesy of Allen & Unwin.