Dreams They Forgot (Emma Ashmere, Wakefield)
The tagline on the title page of Emma Ashmere’s Dreams They Forgot is ‘stories of illusion, deception and quiet rebellion’. This is an apt description of the 25 stories that unfold over the 250 pages of this collection. Ashmere’s protagonists each use these three strategies in various ways, some subtly and some overtly, to respond to dangerous or indifferent circumstances. From the woman who poisons her drunkard boyfriend with daffodils to the girl who picks out swear words in her chenille bedspread, these responses vary in their efficacy. Ashmere’s prose is precise, almost elusive, reading at times like poetry. It drills down into certain details while leaving others out entirely. This invites the reader to complete the picture by tying together the story elements that Ashmere has chosen to share. These are stories that can provoke a sense of dread in the reader, particularly if read in a single sitting. There is also a current of anger throughout, one justified by the understanding that the traumas and troubles Ashmere’s largely female protagonists face arise out of society’s indifference and antagonism toward them because they are female. The deft description, compelling emotion and insightful observations of Dreams They Forgot will appeal to readers of feminist fiction and Australian realism, in particular fans of Dymphna Cusack or Fiona McGregor.
Adam Ford is an editor and a published poet.