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After the Fire, a Still, Small Voice by Evie Wyld (2009)



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Showing 1-5 of 17 (next | show all)
This is not an easy book to write about or a comfortable read, but it is an impressive debut novel. The story alternates between the modern part, which follows Frank as he moves to his grandparents abandoned beach house to regroup after an abusive relationship, but gets caught up in local problems. The other part follows Frank's father Leon, first coming to terms with his own father's traumatic experiences of the Korean war and then as a conscript in Vietnam. These family stories are mixed with atmospheric descriptions of wild Australia, and the overall tone is a mixture of the reflective, the claustrophobic and the slightly menacing ( )
  bodachliath | May 4, 2016 |
Interesting and nicely written, but I would have liked knowing earlier how the threads were woven. Possibly a density on my part. ( )
  Jeannine504 | Jan 23, 2016 |
Having just read Wyld’s ‘All the birds singing’, I decided to read this, her previous book and was surprised to find myself enjoying it just as much as her second novel. The way she has the lives of father and son – Leon and Frank – unfolding at the same stage more or less of their lives at the same time is enticingly original. I also like her style, imbuing words with implication such as Leon, on R & R from Vietnam finding ‘he missed the covering of the jungle canopy and the heavy understanding of his gun’. And, as well as the strands of the plot creating tension, she has also explored how people cope with their flawed selves and their sense of distance and loss – all very effectively. She nudges along the reader’s understanding, avoiding brash outcomes, letting that implication work. I like the way the title emerges, firstly with the lighter Leon buys with ‘After the earthquake, a fire’ and then later in Leon’s truncated dream ‘After the wind, an earthquake’ so that we get the impression of one upheaval after another but then find the ‘still, small voice’ fragilely comforting – the ending of the novel striking the right note between hope and sadness. ( )
  evening | Feb 16, 2014 |
Another reading group book bites the dust. I got really bored really quickly. It is not my sort of novel anyway and at about page 90 I gave up. Nope - not for me. ( )
  infjsarah | Apr 13, 2013 |
The highlight of this book for me is the descriptive prose. Evie Wyld has a real talent for using fresh language and images, and it shines through from the first page to the last.

The story is about traumatised men who bottle up their emotions and fail to communicate, and it's well told, as we alternate between rageful Frank in the present day and his father Leon growing up and going through the Vietnam War. Much of the force that drives the novel on is discovering the reasons for Frank's anger and particularly for his hatred of his father, but this is never really resolved satisfactorily. It's consistent with the characters that nothing really gets openly expressed, but it left me feeling a bit disappointed at the end.

I'd still recommend this book for the luminous prose and the deft handling of compelling themes, but just don't expect all the strands to be pulled together perfectly. ( )
  AndrewBlackman | Oct 20, 2012 |
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The sun turned the narrow dirt track to dust. It rose like an orange tide from the wheels of the truck and blew in through the window to settle in Frank Collard's arm hair.
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Frank moves from Canberra to a shack on the east coast after the turbulent breakdown of his relationship. He wants to put his violent past and bad memories of his father behind him. In a small coastal community, he tries to retrain himself as someone who can have regular conversations and relations with other people. He even starts to make friends, including 8-year-old Sal and her carrot. But something dark watches him, a Creeping Jesus in the sugar cane. Leon is the child of European immigrants to Australia. Leon's father loves Australia for becoming their home when their own country turned hostile during WWII. His mother is not so comforted by suburban life in a cake shop. His parents are broken when his father volunteers to fight in the Korean War. Leon then goes from working in the shop, sculpting sugar dolls for the tops of wedding cakes, to killing young men as a conscripted machine-gunner in Vietnam. Back in Australia, in towns lost in the bush, Christian fundamentalism settles on a sleepy community who chose to forget the legacy of war and the conflicts between people. In the fall-out from Vietnam, Leon thinks he might be able to make a new life with his woman, make a baby, live by the sea in a small shack. But something watches from the cold shade of the teeming bush...… (more)

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