‘Trick of the Light’ is Australian writer Laura Elvery’s debut collection of short stories, a journey once begun, difficult to put down. Elvery is the mistress of the mundane and the quirks that live within, the reader led down winding paths loaded with a surprise at every turn.
The style is subtle and observational, the cavalcade of characters strange birds at times, but alas, we know them well. The tales are crafted by a canny wordsmith who cares deeply for her charges, the stories frugal but finely-tuned, a tender telling of what was, what is, and alluding to what just might be.
Along the way we drive through ‘mountains that grow like trees’ and take a painful pilgrimage for a dead childhood friend, the murderer found after many years. We visit the odd, the old and infirm; share afternoon tea with our grandmother, ‘her skin like cement that has not been smoothed’. There are tales of angst, of teenage life, the follies, foibles, and the promise of adventure in a big wide world.
And Elvery’s stories really are about the light, each a work of art, like a Turner or a Turrell, a washed winter sky with a sunbeam here and there; enough light to show the way, but not always enough to pierce the shadows. For those that enjoy short stories and clever writing of a minimalist mode, ‘Trick of the Light’ is a haunting read.
*** Opening feature image `TRICK OF THE LIGHT stories’ a book by Laura Elvery published by University of Queensland Press 2018 ***