Dream Stuff


David Malouf

Chatto & Windus, 2000

A really incredible collection of short stories; David Malouf is a real gem of Australian writing. Perhaps it was a combination of having just got back to a baking Australian summer after three months spent in a Germany falling steadily into a cold winter, mixed with a healthy dose of nostalgia for days spent in the sun and on the beach as a child. Either way I fell in love with At Schindler’s in a hot and sticky way. This is Australia in its modern element; sad in a constant rather than heavy fashion and fixed right in the middle of a battle ground caught between ecstatic and melancholy emotions. Closer taught me about the healthy irony seeped all throughout Malouf’s writing which is usually savagely funny at the expense of the characters. The adjective “appalling innocence” as used to describe two novice army cadets is one such example. Dream Stuff gave me a great insight into the power of a writer which can convey a whole back story with one phrase: “When he crept to bed at last, Jane would tease him about his other woman out there – and he could never be sure how serious she was and whether it was Coralie she meant or his book.” In a matter of a sentence we can see a whole world of playful jealousy in the past of these two characters and then further, with the development of the story, a vicious jealousy which would become their future. It is always interesting when a writer can take you deeper into a world which you thought you knew so well and which holds so many personal values, than you had previously discovered. It is almost like finding another part of yourself and that is a rare and valuable piece of writing which can achieve that.


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