Almost a Mirror (Kirsten Krauth, Transit Lounge)
Kirsten Krauth’s Almost a Mirror is about the relationship between music and memory, and the unexpected directions that family and romantic life can take. Mona is in her late 30s and heavily pregnant with her first child when Jimmy, her partner and lifelong best friend, takes his own life, triggering memories of their relationship and the music they loved growing up together in Melbourne in the 1980s. These memories, set to the soundtrack of a mixtape that Jimmy leaves Mona when he dies, form the basis of the first half of the novel. Readers familiar with Melbourne’s new wave and post-punk scenes will appreciate the sections that take place at St Kilda’s Crystal Ballroom, as well as cameos from Nick Cave and Rowland S Howard. Those who recognise the songs that prompt each chapter will benefit, but it’s not required knowledge to enjoy a book that shifts gears midway to become largely about parenting and finding love and companionship in unexpected ways. As a whole, this novel is like the post-punk music that it’s set to: messy, sometimes meandering and held together in ways that are not immediately obvious, but are ultimately rewarding. Krauth’s second book is for Melbourne music lovers and readers of gritty cult Australian novels such as Andrew McGahan’s Praise.
David Little is a bookseller at Readings Carlton