Student writers’ anthology "challenges and delights"
"Diverse and powerful", the 2019 UTS Writers’ Anthology Infinite Threads is rich in creativity.
Thirty three. That's the magic year, apparently, that most of us are content.* Perhaps that's why this year's UTS Writers' Anthology is so good. After three-plus decades, it's settled into its raw, often warm and funny, sometimes prickly skin and unashamedly embraces the talent within its pages.
ORDER: Infinite Threads from Brio Books
We all know not to judge a book by its cover, but Infinite Threads begs you do. And it delivers. Bold and intriguing, the book demands you look. And it’s not shy about what it's offering. The short stories inside are diverse and powerful – rich in creativity with the ability to both challenge and delight. Sometimes, even, leave us changed.
Each single thread takes us through so many different states of place and being – the streets of Redfern; a strong young woman struggling to connect and know place and self in 'Coast Line Dreaming'; inherited grief laid bare and remedied by a mother's healing soup in the dark poetic 'Bak Kut Teh'; the trials of cancer and birth through 'Chrysalis' – swollen with love, but equally bloated brokenness. Their commonality is a celebration of authenticity, in whatever its shape, but humble, evocative and concise.
'We've Come All This Way' is a frank and sparse walk down death's corridor with a matter-of-fact look back over the shoulder to ask how we got here. But it never descends into cliché. Instead, we're thrown into the banality of "the protracted occupation that is dying" and shunted onto a theme park ride with our terminally ill mother. We throw ourselves into the ride knowing the mechanics that course it steer our lives too – something just below the surface, gears churning, directing us through love, loss and the ordinariness of life. And come the end, we'll remember being thrown round the bends and the equal parts panic and joy, but we'll be brave and ride it.
Beautiful as these single, disparate story threads are, when knotted together they form a tightly crafted whole. Diversity is strength and Infinite Threads is worth reading cover to cover.
*According to UK survey conducted by Friends United
Infinite Threads is the 2019 UTS Writers’ Anthology. Since 1982, a UTS student editorial committee has created these writers’ anthologies to showcase talent from the UTS Creative Writing program.
‘We’ve Come All This Way’ by CJ Vallis was awarded the 2019 Anthology Writing Prize. Read an excerpt from the story below.
‘We’ve Come All This Way’
By CJ Vallis
Winner 2019 Anthology Writing Prize
Glass smashes. It must be dawn, or not long after, the light is so weak. I pull the doona over my head and squeeze my eyes shut but the dream that seemed so real a moment ago has already dissolved, to day.
Still half-asleep I call out, ‘Is everything all right?’ Though, of course, everything is not.
I venture out to the hall. ‘Mum?’
She’s supposed to be asleep in the spare bedroom, dosed to her eyeballs with haloperidol and lorazepam. Instead she loiters in the hall, already changed from her nightie into a flowery summer dress.
‘What are you doing, Mum?’
On the floorboards, our family photos are scattered facedown like dead enemy soldiers.
She points to her bedroom door. ‘I warned him! He should’ve bought the tickets when I asked him to.’
Last night at dinner she raved about a family outing to DreamTime – Wouldn’t it be fun to have rides and a picnic? No, I said. I told her we’re too old, for a start. I stuck to the facts, steered clear of old complaints and bad blood.
Dad, on the other hand, shook his head and ignored her like she was as loopy as a roller coaster, her sentences just distant screams. Mum started name-calling, louder and louder, screeching to get her words closer to Dad. Until I had to call in the medical cavalry who sedated her. Supposedly.
I try logic again. ‘Mum,’ I say, ‘DreamTime is not even open at this time of the morning.’
Now she hesitates – ‘Will be by the time I get there’ – bolts towards the front door, hot-footing it over broken glass, and downstairs. The car door slams, the engine starts, and I run to the landing. As she reverses, she scrapes along the camellia bush. She laughs as she slides the lever into drive. In a heartbeat she is gone.
Read the full story in Infinite Threads.