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Into Your Arms: Nick Cave’s songs reimagined (ed by Kirsten Krauth, Fremantle)

Short story anthology Into Your Arms draws on what editor Kirsten Krauth calls the ‘deep, rich and often dark vein’ of Nick Cave’s musical oeuvre. Twenty-one Australian writers (several of whom also contributed to Fremantle Press’s previous collection devoted to Paul Kelly, Minds Went Walking) have each selected Cave songs on which to build their stories, spanning the musician’s career from The Birthday Party to The Bad Seeds. Like Cave’s music, these pages abound with seedy characters and dark secrets (see the vibrant villains in Tony Birch’s ‘Red Right Hand’, Neil A White’s reimagining of ‘The Mercy Seat’ as a gritty thriller, or Ben Hobson’s suitably unnerving ode to ‘Cannibal’s Hymn’). Other pieces are poignant explorations of love, loss and longing. Kirsten Tranter’s ‘People Ain’t No Good’ and Mark Smith’s ‘Love Letter’ successfully capture Cave’s signature mix of darkness and tenderness and are highlights of the collection. Another standout is Cate Kennedy’s ‘Nobody’s Waiting for Anyone Anymore’ (based on ‘(Are You) The One That I’ve Been Waiting For?’): perhaps the only story that, beyond being a well-written piece in its own right, actually expanded my understanding of and appreciation for the original song. Some contributions keep only a tenuous relationship with their source material (a pity when such a rich trove of characters and imagery is available to play with), but as a collection, it remains a fitting tribute to Cave’s style. Into Your Arms will make an easy gift for fans come Christmas time but can also be enjoyed as a Cave crash course for the uninitiated.

Books+Publishing reviewer: Megan Koch is a writer and bookseller based in Adelaide. Books+Publishing is Australia’s number-one source of pre-publication book reviews.


Category: Friday Unlocked reviews Reviews