This Water (Beverley Farmer, Giramondo)
This Water features five new short stories from Beverly Farmer, one of Australia’s most underappreciated living writers. In this, her 10th book, Farmer draws heavily on ancient myths, folklores and fables, which she imbues with modern feminist sensibilities. Such ideas circle throughout her daring body of work, which has spanned almost 40 years and multiple genres. Her dark tales call to mind the works of Angela Carter: sex, motherhood, femininity and desire are strong themes in this book. The settings are particular vivid, with stories of melting ice and surging oceans transporting the reader to a magical realm. Farmer is an exquisite stylist and plot, at times, becomes secondary. Her jewel-like sentences are in stark contrast to the lean prose that has come to characterise much of the short fiction published today. Farmer’s richness is something to marvel at, though occasionally her forays into older style verse feel a little affected. This Water is unapologetically shape-shifting and genre-defying. It’s refusal to be easily pinned down makes it a challenging read. Like poetry, which it closely mirrors, This Water should be admired for its impressionistic, imagistic beauty.
Emily Laidlaw is a writer and editor from Melbourne