Authors: Cate Kennedy
Cate Kennedy is a highly respected poet, short story writer and novelist. Her short story collection,
, was shortlisted for the Steele Rudd Award in the Queensland Premier's Literary Awards and the Australian Literature Society Gold Medal, and her 2012 short story collection,
Like a House on Fire
, won the Steele Rudd Award in the Queensland Literary Awards.
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Â© individual copyright remains with the contributors 2014.
Â© Compilation and introduction copyright remains with the editor Cate Kennedy 2014
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National Library of Australia Cataloguing-in-Publication entry
Title: Australian Love Stories/edited by Cate Kennedy.
ISBN: 9780987540164 (paperback).
Cate Kennedy, editor.
Dewey Number: A823.085
BY WAY OF ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
I have become a palimpsest of Australian love. Strings of sentences, loose phrases and itinerant words conjure lovers lilting between tall trees, a boy startled by a girl's pink nakedness in azure water, an older woman's body being caressed, a Greek man weeping after all those years, a gay man finding a cat on a freeway that makes everything okay. All these and more, layer themselves over the landscape of my soul and teach me the ways of our Australian heart.
Due to the limitations of space and the way this set of stories sing together, some of these images come from stories that did not make the final cut. We received 445 stories for consideration and, though we only had room for these twenty-nine, I am grateful for every last story submitted to this project. The writing of each of them was an act of love, acts which will inevitably impact on our world.
Australian Love Stories
would not exist except for the exquisite discernment of Cate Kennedy who spent the entirety of this project on Vanuatu while her husband fulfilled a work contract there. Every love story was coded, ordered and sent to Cate by the good graces of Terri Grote and Kezia Lubanszky. She received the stories through the hell and high water of a cyclone, and the vagaries of the Vanuatu post, she sipped gin and coconut juice on breaks between reading, and kept an intimate correspondence with me as the manuscript came into being. Thank you Cate for your dedication and delight in this project.
It is no secret, every book has a team devoted to bringing it into the world. Our assistant editor, Angela Meyer, focussed her eagle eye and courteous demeanour on every single word of the manuscript. Sandy Cull, again, lent her unending devotion to the art of book design to this volume alongside the wise and knowledgeable Sue Van Velsen at Book Production Solutions and the talented typesetter, Mike Kuszla, to create the quality publication for which Inkerman & Blunt has come to be known. Thanks to each of you for this creation.
None of our publications would be possible without the team behind the scenes: Antonella Cannizzaro who keeps our financial ducks in a row, Sonja Meyer who keeps our website beautiful, our new marketing person, Jen Toogood, and Beverley Cameron, Nella Soeterboek and the entire team at NewSouth Books who keep our books in a bookshop near you. My thanks to all of you for making Inkerman & Blunt an excellent adventure.
INTRODUCTION: WHEN IT COMES
In love? Want to be? Falling in or out? Just curious? Eros or agape, lust or platonic? Come and sit over here with me, under this tree.
I have recently emerged from a sea of storiesâ445 of them, if we're countingâand I am soaked to the skin with their images, their arresting details, their flashes of yearning and often rueful insight. They were all love stories, and I spent many weeks reading and re-reading them; waking up thinking about them, wandering on beaches struck by their ideas, as if they were bits of flotsam I picked up to save in my hand, to turn over later and ponder afresh.
I read them as a tropical cyclone thrashed overhead and as sweltering humidity made their pages furry with moisture. I read them at night as the air pulsed with cicadas, and geckoes stalked the insects drawn to my light. I could only choose a few for this collection, yet every story I loved and absorbed but had to put aside for space considerations filled me with a regret akin to a failed romance. I wishâand wouldn't this be a great reward for a reading task like this oneâthat I could enlighten you now with some new insights and wisdom about the nature of love that I have learned from reading these hundreds of stories so intimately shared.
Alas. I'm still fumbling for the light switch, like every other human being on the planet.
Last year I listened to the singer songwriter Claire Bowditch give a valuable piece of advice: pay attention, she said, to the things you wish you'd written. That's something from your unconscious, trying to message you through the noise. I've taken that advice a
step further since, and tried to be a little more attentive to the scraps of songs and jingles and poems that run through my head at odd moments; that bit of pop music that won't leave me alone, that tantalising fragment of rhyme that seems stuck there. Why this? Why now? Is the confluence of this lyric and this moment really so odd or random?
The fragment of remembered verse which kept returning to my mind as I read all these stories was not John Lennon's âAll You Need is Love', or anything biblical, or anything from the canon of Burt Bacharach. It was the humorous and whimsical poem by W. H. Auden, âO Tell me the Truth about Love', which ends:
When it comes, will it come without warning
Just as I'm picking my nose?
Will it knock on my door in the morning,