With writing as revelatory as it is eerily precise, that disturbs as much as it satisfies: one and all these masterful The title story reflects the dreamlike quality found throughout, but gives it an almost Kafkaesque twist: after decades of living in London, a successful novelist is brought home to Brisbane by the death of his mother, spends an evening with a cousin he'd once been close to, then finds himself walking to his hotel through mean, empty streets in the middle of the night—and is set upon by a stranger who accuses the writer of sleeping with his girlfriend, then takes out a knife and mutilates himself. With humor and insight, Straub creates a family worth rooting for. When Astrid Strick witnesses a school bus run over a longtime acquaintance of hers—Barbara Baker, a woman she doesn't like very much—it's only the beginning of the shake-ups to come in her life and the lives of those she loves.

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A missing father, a missing uncle, a missing place. A desire to reach across the bridge of time, back to some place which may have never existed, except in our dreams and the self-created impressions of the moments we have lived, which are already gone.

The 9 stories all have a strong element of longing and loss. All of these stories feature something now gone, a moment which has disappeared, only to be revisited and recaptured, reassessed, reworked until it takes on a new truth in the internal dream worlds of the narrators which present them.

The main action, the epiphany point in each story, takes place deep within the main characters, while the external events are mere triggers. He heard it. The sudden understanding of death and loss, and love, and time passing are all united in this snapping, as Jack begins to comprehend the loss of his father, and his own life before him.

Sally does her job and then takes a break. Amy wants to reach out to her uncle. Most of the action is past tense. They are relatively common tales. A prostitute finds the possible chance of love. A patch of land will disappear under a shopping mall.

These are stories which are happening everywhere. The meaning, the beauty of them is in the narrative voice. The assimilation of the event and the way in which the words preserve the moment into something larger.

Let it happen. Come closer, closer. It is a moment of love. There are other stories however, where something does happen, and in that moment the natural world is disturbed, turned into something surreal, the reality turning into nightmare, as in Lone Pine, where a couple stops for a night on their first real trip, only to become the victims of a terrible and random crime. These pivotal moments too are merely the outside landscape for the main story, which occurs internally.

Warm, dark, filling it, flowing out. Despite the intensity, stillness, and sometimes violent imagery in these stories, and they are generally black, submerged, and slow moving, the overall impression is one of light.

Of finding what has been lost. Of waking to a new day. Views Today.


A review of David Malouf’s Dream Stuff

Here are nine haunting stories from the award-winning author of Remembering Babylon , in which history and geography, as well as the past and the present, combine and often collide, illuminating the landscape and revealing the character of Australia. An eleven-year-old boy sees his father in his own elongated shadow only to realize that he will not return from the war. Wise and moving, startling and lyrical, Dream Stuff reverberates with the unpredictability of human experience, revealing people who are shaped by the mysterious rhythms of nature as well as the ghosts of their own pasts. Forster and Virginia Woolf…. Carefully crafted. Read An Excerpt.


Dream Stuff: Stories

Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Want to Read saving…. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover.

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