Here Until August by Josephine Rowe

‘It strikes me that this is what strangers do.  Make offerings before stepping over the threshold of another’s house.  That is what we are now.’

Ten short stories about time.  About living and remembering, about recounting events.  Set across the world: different locations, different people with different experiences.  I read each story, take it in, imagine what came before or what might happen next.  The people (and events) become real.

How does Ms Rowe do this?

‘Sinkers’ took me to the Snowy Mountains, where the drowned town of Adaminaby lies under Lake Eucumbene.  And reminded me of the other drowned towns of Jindabyne and Talbingo.  But it is not the landscape which held my attention in this story (familiar as it is) but the impact on people.

‘Chavez’, a longer story, took me into the world of an agoraphobic woman looking after her neighbour’s dog.  It is meant to be for a short period only, but events elsewhere in the world have an impact.

Returning to the first story, ‘Glisk’, I learn that a ‘glisk’ is a Scots word meaning glance or a twinkling. And in this story, there are two events which take place in an instant and which are important in the life of Fynn, whose story is being narrated by his half-brother Raf.  Lives are changed, defined, and sometimes destroyed by such moments.

 People move across the world, into and out of the lives of others.  Relationships and perceptions evolve.  Time is not static, nor is it linear.  I have mentioned three stories and perhaps they are my favourites for now.  But when I reread these stories, and I know I will, my focus may shift. 

‘This is not what we do.  This is not how we get close to each other, by making ourselves seem defective enough to safely befriend.’

If you enjoy beautifully written self-contained short stories that invite you to think, then you may enjoy this book as much as I did.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith