From prize-winning short-story writer Cate Kennedy comes a new collection to rival her highly acclaimed Dark Roots. In Like a House on Fire, Kennedy once again takes ordinary lives and dissects their ironies, injustices and pleasures with her humane eye and wry sense of humour.
In ‘Laminex and Mirrors’, a young woman working as a cleaner in a hospital helps an elderly patient defy doctor’s orders. In ‘Cross-Country’, a jilted lover manages to misinterpret her ex’s new life. And in ‘Ashes’, a son accompanies his mother on a journey to scatter his father’s remains, while lifelong resentments simmer in the background.
Cate Kennedy’s poignant short stories find the beauty and tragedy in illness and mortality, life and love.
Laminex and Mirrors
Like a House on Fire
Little Plastic Shipwreck
This study guide provides. summary of the short stories, and provides extension activities to further your knowledge.
Devastating, evocative, and richly comic, Dark Roots deftly unveils the traumas that incite us to desperate measures and the coincidences that drive our lives. This arresting collection introduces a new master of the short story.
Following her American debut in The New Yorker, Australian Cate Kennedy delivers a mesmerising collection of award-winning stories that daringly travel to the deepest depths of the human psyche. In this sublimely sophisticated and compulsively readable collection, Kennedy opens up worlds of finely observed detail to explore the collision between simmering inner lives, the cold outside world, and the hidden motivations that propel us all to act.
In just a few pages, Kennedy captures entire lives, expertly documenting the risks and compromises made in both forging and escaping relationships. Her stories are populated by people on the brink: whether it’s a woman floundering with her own loss and emotional immobility as her lover lies in a coma; a neglected wife who cannot convince her husband of the truth about his two brutish, shamelessly libidinous friends; or a married woman who comes to realize that her too-tight wedding ring isn’t the only thing that’s stuck in her relationship. Each character must make a choice and none is without consequence—even the smallest decisions have the power to destroy or renew, to recover and relinquish.
Disarming, warm, and always accessible, Cate Kennedy's poems make ordinary experiences glow. Everything that suffuses her well-loved prose is here: compassion, insight, lyrical precision, and the clear, minimalist eye that reveals how life can turn on a single moment. Musing on the undercurrents and interconnections between legacy, memory, motherhood and the natural world, the poems in the collection begin on the surface and then take us, gracefully and effortlessly, to a far more thought-provoking place.
Once, Rich and Sandy were environmental activists, part of a world-famous blockade in Tasmania to save the wilderness. Now, twenty-five years later, they have both settled into the uncomfortable compromises of middle age - although they've gone about it in very different ways. About the only thing they have in common is their fifteen-year-old daughter, Sophie.
When the perennially restless Rich decides to take Sophie, whom he hardly knows, on a trek into the Tasmanian wilderness, his overconfidence and her growing disillusion with him set off a chain of events that no one could have predicted. Instead of respect, Rich finds antagonism in his relationship with Sophie; and in the vast landscape he once felt an affinity for, he encounters nothing but disorientation and fear.
Ultimately all three characters will learn that if they are to survive, each must traverse not only the secret territories that lie between them but also those within themselves.
Cate Kennedy is an Australian author based in Victoria. She graduated from University of Canberra and has also taught at several colleges, including The University of Melbourne. She is the author of the highly acclaimed novel The World Beneath, which won the People’s Choice Award in the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards in 2010. It was also shortlisted for The Age fiction prize 2010 and the ASA Barbara Jefferis Award 2010, among others. She is an award-winning short-story writer whose work has twice won The Age Short Story Competition and has appeared in a range of publications, including The New Yorker. Her collection, Dark Roots, was shortlisted for the Steele Rudd Award in the Queensland Premier’s Literary Awards and for the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal. Cate is also the author of the travel memoir Sing, and Don’t Cry, and the poetry collections Joyflight and Signs of Other Fires. Her latest book is The Taste of River Water: New and Selected Poems by Cate Kennedy, which was published in May 2011 and won the Victorian Premier’s Literary Awards CJ Dennis Prize for Poetry.