Man Out of Time (Stephanie Bishop, Hachette)
In September 2001, Stella Gilman’s father, Leon, wanders the streets of a coastal city, armed with his camera, arbitrarily snapping photographs. His walkabout seems purposeless; his thoughts, fragmented. When the narrative cuts to Stella opening her door to a couple of policemen who report her father as missing, it becomes apparent we have potentially witnessed Leon’s final movements. Stephanie Bishop’s third novel, Man Out of Time, explores the relationship between a father and his daughter, and the legacy of a parent’s debilitating depression as it grows into a devastating crisis. The book has two major threads: the first propels us back to Stella’s childhood and the moment she witnessed her father’s breakdown, and the second explains Leon’s fate and its impact on Stella and her mother. Man Out of Time gracefully unpacks the emotional territory that accompanies mental illness and the capacity for trauma to travel through generations. Potent in its subtlety, it is a rich novel that demands the full attention of its readers, rewarding those who invest. It’s a book for readers of literary fiction looking to be immersed in powerful language. Those who enjoyed Elizabeth Strout’s My Name is Lucy Barton will find just as much to enjoy in Bishop’s empathetic protagonists.
Simon McDonald is a senior bookseller at Potts Point Bookshop