5 star #bookreview by @geoffnelder for “Place of Many Birds” by Jan Merry


5 stars
Filling your head with tales down under

By Geoff Nelder “Geoff Nelder” (Chester, UK) (Verified purchase)

An intriguing collection of short stories including:

Before Winter Comes: would you feed a doorstep-found cake to your young siblings not knowing if it was poisoned or meant for someone else? The elder sister took the chance and so this story regaled us with the flavours of coffee cake before treating us to the deeper reasoning behind it. Poignant and delicious.

Killing Time: a story with a bike! A single-father story pregnant with suburban observations, rich with aromas and colours. I too would like weather forecasts at the beginning of TV news! I have a meeting of minds with Maurice in that I’ve done walkabouts on my bike not dicing until the last minute where to go. Rather an anticlimactic ending, like my own rides.

Spirit of Activity: another bike story but this time we don’t know the name or gender of the cyclist, however, the tale focuses on someone they meet. Australian ethos. Marvellous.

Place of Many Birds: a drifting story full of lyrical moments in 1950s Australia. Poverty, yet hope written stylishly and there’s a bike in this one too. A house move to the coast for people who had never seen the ocean provides an intriguing backdrop. For most short stories I eagerly await for a neat twist, a denouement that answers, sets a new possibility or wraps up the gift properly, so to speak. We don’t get this in the collection Place of Many Birds, what you have are stories that are ends in themselves. The kind you read on a beach, as I did on Fuerteventura off the coast of Africa, my mind immersed in Jan Kerry’s exquisite prose, taking you a different kind of journey. Highly recommended.

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