Posted by: Corri van de Stege | January 15, 2011

Carrying on….and some short stories

I have now finished Scott Turow’s Innocent as well as Presumed Innocent and will pull together a short review this afternoon or tomorrow.  It’s been a busy week and it looks as if, with the economy picking up, my work schedule is also becoming more demanding again.  That means there is less time, and let’s be honest, less energy also, for writing reviews.  I read on trains, before going to sleep and sometimes a whole evening but that is for the sheer pleasure of it.  I refuse to let it become another chore that I have to complete.

I found I had to keep off the Innocent late at night as my brain would go in overdrive.  Do you find that?  I therefore have a number of books on the go at the same time.  For the train journeys I have my e-reader and I found myself skipping through some of Tony Blair’s book A Journey which I downloaded last year some time.  It’s actually very badly written in places!  At times corny and in  a very basic style.   It now also feels a bit dated, life (and politics) have moved on although we are still stuck with a lot of the inheritance and of course, he will once more have to appear before the select committee.  I’ve got as far as page 100 in this book and unless there are a lot of train journeys shortly I doubt whether I will ever finish it.  I will probably just skip a bit here and there!

Also on my e-reader is a selection of short stories: Best Australian Short Stories (ed. Douglas Stewart).  I’m not sure how it got there but in fact I really enjoy reading an odd story here and there, before going to sleep, say, or when Tony Blair’s book just gets too much.   I’ve now read the two stories by Henry Lawson ‘The Drover’s Wife’ and ‘The Bush Undertaker’  both of which are really quite stunning in their simplicity and readability.  They give an insight in the loneliness of people living in the outback.  In the first story the drover’s wife is left to take care of her children when her husband goes out to do his ‘droving’ and then faces the menace of a snake hidden under the floorboards of her simple hut.  She stays up all night and we get to know and understand her loneliness and sheer determination to protect her children in this vast nothingness.  In the second story the bush undertaker comes across an old friend of his lying dead at the side of the mud path.  His reminiscences are all out loud with his dog ‘Five Bob’ as his only companion and attentive listener.

I was struck by how big Australia is, when the news reports on the recent floods indicated that an area as big as Germany and France together had been flooded.  It is almost unimaginable how you go about rescuing people living out in nowhere and then after the floods have receded, carrying out the recovery work.  The short stories I’m reading confirm and emphasise the, for us Europeans, almost unimaginable, vast areas that make up Australia.  I know something about distances as I travelled through Iran by car, at one point in my life, but Iran’s surface area (1,648,195 sq kilometers according to Wikipedia) is only just under a seventh of that of Australia (7,617,920 sq kilometers, again according to Wikipedia).  

I am sure I’ll find some more treasures in this short story collection!



  1. Douglas Stewart was a famous Aussie poet, so I’d be interested in what stories he selected. I always find Lawon enjoyable!

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