Short books: digestible in one sitting (think a cup of coffee or, in this instance, the final hour before school pick-up) and self-contained. The idea that few(er) words still pack a big punch. Increasingly, short books and series of short books are becoming more popular, their bite-sized format appealing to readers, writers and publishers alike.
An unnamed narrator addresses her lover: “I didn’t know your name when we first met. No one introduced us. The only thing I remember is that you were picking roadside elderflowers.” The relationship between the young Chinese narrator and “you”, the elderflower picker, progresses quickly and their relationship, from living on a houseboat to exploring Australian tourist towns, is explored through the fragments of conversations that make up Guo Xiaolu’s A Lover’s Discourse.
Michael Prior’s second poetry collection Burning Province opens with a stark image, one that speaks to the trauma and intergenerational memory that carries through the volume.
Jena Lin was a child prodigy; now, in her early twenties, she uses sex to fill the void left by fame. Jena is still a musician, her professional life taking her from practice to rehearsal and back again. But once a solo violinist who traveled the world, she now finds herself auditioning for a position in an orchestra.
The gentle pitter-patter of falling rain intensifies into a storm: “Wetter / And wetter / The blues darker / And so do the greens…”
A young girl tells her grandmother: “I want to be a haenyeo just like you. You’re like a treasure-hunting mermaid.”
We first learn to swim in the womb, Bonnie Tsui writes, and while “not everyone is a swimmer … everyone has a swimming story to tell.”