Ginninderra Press, Australia, 2021
With his previous book Beethoven’s Tenth (self published, 2021), Peter Rodgers has proved himself to be both an astute observer of human nature and contemporary society and a highly skilled and entertaining writer.
This second publication for 2021 reveals the same keen eye and an often wry view of the world around him, but also a practised hand in the art of short story writing. The medium requires discipline in self-editing, precision in the choice of vocabulary and the capacity to quickly and deftly build character.
With stories held in his collection for as much as 20 years, the author has assembled a work traversing the gamut of human experience and emotion. His characteristic humour is found in many of these stories – it is dry, understated, clever, observant, not unsympathetic but neither sniggering nor gauchely slapstick.
The author’s clear affection for small Australian bush towns and their inhabitants is reflected in several stories, including the whimsical House and Garden and the tougher The hard stuff of dreams. He’s a writer who likes to ambush us somewhat, as we see in Our fern garden and Colonel and Mrs Smith’s special day out. It’s not that we are unprepared, but the gentle sting is certainly a recognisable feature of his writing.
Peter Rodgers does like to take a swipe at aspects of society where he sees the mark of injustice or the handprint of the ludicrous. The Win-win story, for example is a funny but close to the mark tale about the ugliness of the book industry. And a few stories take a hard look at hallowed institutions like the courts, the banks and policing.
In a genre where every paragraph, sentence and word must count, Peter Rodgers has excelled. Many of the stories in this book have been published in other places over two decades. It seems to me that none has lost its relevance or its bite. I am pleased that he and Ginninderra Press have gathered these gems in a single place for us.
Thank you Ginninderra Press for the review copy and Peter for the delightful conversation about your work and many other things.