A Beautiful Moment in China

A Beautiful Moment in China
Yes, I look weathered; it had been a long climb. But I was about to reach the Buddhist temple outside of Shao Xing.

Sunday, 16 June 2013

Australian literature needs more e-books like this!

If you have just four dollars to spare and want to read some first-class contemporary fiction, please consider Across a Fluky Sea, by Ken Spillman. I finished this deeply engrossing e-book stirred by a mixture of strong feelings: nostalgia, hope, sadness, joy, compassion and anger.

A novella comprising three connected narratives, Across a Fluky Sea takes us through five years in the early adulthood of Gus Watson. The first-person narration gives us his view of life in Western Australia, mainly during the early 1990s, with the prime focus on his relationships with Johnny and Selena. The setting is conveyed in an utterly unforced and authentic way. Aussie football culture, beaches, Catholic school, university life, Australian dialogue—all seep naturally from the narrative.

Moreover, the inner and outer experiences of Gus are so truly told that I felt I was re-living chapters of my own life at his age. There is the uncertainty and gradual development of his relationship with Selena. Then there is his period of hospitalisation which brings him to face the transience of youth. But the strand that made the most profound impression on me is Gus’s gradual insight into Johnny’s tragic inner problems and family relationships. It’s an understanding sorely needed by most of us.

I should add one more feeling the book left with me: admiration for the author. I am in awe of Spillman’s consummate skill in telling his story with such unpretentious and unobtrusive prose that is, nevertheless, precise and even poetic.

Ken Spillman has to his credit many diverse works, from local history to children’s fiction, some of which have been translated into other languages and published internationally. On the basis of my reading of Across a Fluky Sea, I hope he will give us many more books for adults. Given some savvy marketing and promotion, the low prices made possible by e-book technology could help to regenerate interest in Australian literature. And I for one am ready to buy e-books of the quality of this one.

Across a Fluky Sea is an e-book available from Amazon.

You can discover more about Ken Spillman at his website: http://www.kenspillman.com/