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The In-Between (Christos Tsiolkas, A&U)

Christos Tsiolkas’s The In-Between begins with Perry, a man past his youth, preparing to go on a date. He’s nervous about meeting Ivan, the stranger he will have dinner with, and he thinks of the past as he considers which shirt and tie to wear. Perry and Ivan tentatively begin to show each other who they are; both men are recovering from ruinous relationships that seep into their present lives despite their hopes for a fresh start. This is a novel with the idea of transformation at its heart, whether it’s individuals falling in love or the sometimes queasy and combustible intersections of class, culture and desire. Perry and Ivan struggle with self-sabotaging behaviours and clapped-out defence mechanisms, which we may recognise and perhaps regret in ourselves. Their developing love story dominates the plot, and the narrative moves between characters, sometimes for sections, other times for only a paragraph as fleeting as a preoccupied passerby on the walk home. For me, the power in Tsiolkas’s writing is the compelling cocktail of the sacred and the profane. There is grace in the characters’ interactions with one another and truly startling bolts of corporeal description. There are frank odours, slippery textures, casual cruelties and beautiful moments of understanding between humans who are doing their best. A great read for those who enjoyed Jamaica by Malcolm Knox or the classic Cathedral by Raymond Carver.

Books+Publishing reviewer: Anne Barneston is a bookseller and illustrator working on unceded Whadjuk Noongar country. Books+Publishing is Australia’s number-one source of pre-publication book reviews.


Category: Friday Unlocked reviews Reviews