Today’s “teaser” is an extract from Australian writer John Kinsella’s new short fiction collection, Crow’s Breath. I have not read any of Kinsella’s work before, but I’m quite taken with the poetic style of the extract. The first sentence is great – it’s mysterious and sets up a feeling of anticipation.

Crows Breath

Here’s the extract/teaser:

It’s the time of year, the night when the veil is thinnest. Before the children were born, he and his wife had lived in America, and had vaguely ‘participated’ in the grotesqueries and festivities by attending a Halloween work party in costume (he a ghoul, she a witch). But in that place, there was a degree of separation from the festival’s origins that made it less disturbing for him. Not that he was admitting he was disturbed, huddled there in the dark, without even the glow of a computer screen to comfort him. In fact, as the next set of pounding pounding pounding on the door came, he was glad there was no computer on in the house – it suddenly seemed the thinnest of membranes.

Not far from their house, there was a famine pit, a mass grave. He walked around it rather than past it. His ancestors had travelled to Australia to escape the famine. It had struck him that so much of the Halloween imagery was portrayals of the starving, of the faces of those whose lives were stripped away by blight and a murderous government policy emanating from London. In that room, the pounding reached in and threatened to pull his heart out, the sounds of the starving pleading for the sweets and chocolates buried in that bag in the cupboard.

When the Others reach through the membrane, they are alive and vibrant. It’s their time of year, and they must be respected and celebrated. They feel empowered. They assemble the ship in the bottle without tools, without threads to raise the mast. Someone was tapping at the window and yelling, Trick trick trick. Teenagers. Rocking back and forth, he propelled himself forward, opened the door and dashed to the kitchen. Groping in the dark, he found the cupboard and the sweets and, following the street lights to the front door, opened it and hurled the entire bag out front, slamming the door behind him. A manic dance began outside, with caterwauling, screaming and hooting.

Hello? Are you here, love? Where are you? Why are the lights off? Love! Where’s Dad, Mum? Look, here he is. Dad, what’s wrong? Love, why are you curled up like that on the floor? Come on, get up. What’s wrong? You’re frightening the children! He looked up into the faces of demons, the flesh of the faces running hot in the cold air they dragged in from outside.

Crow’s Breath (Transit Lounge $25.95) is now available at good bookstores and online at www.transitlounge.com.au

Here’s some more information about Crow’s Breath:

A man who never sleeps takes a cross-continent train journey into landscape and memory. A gregarious woman and a reclusive man move to an Irish village where history and tradition (the famine pit nearby, the festival of Halloween) enact their dark forces. In an Australian town dying from the encroachment of salinity, a young girl attempts to bring life to a dead dog. Whether documenting love or horror, or finding quotidian absurdities in Australia or the world , the powerful stories in Crow’s Breath capture the precariousness of everything we most value with unsettling tenderness and beauty.

What do you think? Is this something you would read. I’m keen.


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by Jenn of A Daily Rhythm. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)

Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!



Monique Mulligan

Monique Mulligan

0 Responses

  1. This book sounds horrifyingly good! I am not quite sure what is going on but I’m really intrigued!! I like the way the tone changes throughout the extract. I hope you enjoy this one! Thanks for sharing 🙂 I hope you have a great week!
    My Tuesday post
    Juli @ Universe in Words

    1. I don’t read a lot of short stories either, but when I do, I often find myself awed by how the writer conveys so much in so few words.

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