Review: Life, Bound by Marian Matta

Australian author Marian Matta's debut collection of short stories is a well written collection that offers readers an intimate glimpse into the lives of well, other people. In Climb we meet a boy who has scrambled up a tree after violently attacking his abuser. In Babies-in-Their-Eyes we meet Ruby, a woman who eloped with her first love years before and has lived a life constrained by grief after the deaths of all but one of their children. And in between we meet people whose lives are shaped by situations that are not of their making, whether it be by their sexuality, an abusive partner or another factor. 

Matta writes with a lot of empathy for her characters, making each story unique and compelling. For me, there were two stand out moments. The Heart of Harvey's Lane is the first story in the collection and the perfect opener, a story of how a character is enchanted and eventually changed forever by the lonely but beautiful old house that they purchase, a change that eventually influences their love of photography and their personal relationships. The second moment comes just a few stories later. Danny Boy tells the story of a young man dissatisfied with his lot in life and whose lack of confidence impacts on his personal relationships. The real reason for Danny's distress packs a real punch and is told so cleverly--and with such careful empathy--that I never saw a hint of it coming.

Overall, this is an enjoyable collection that will no doubt appeal to fans of Tim Winton and Helen Garner.


Thank you to Midnight Sun Publishing for my reading copy of Life, Bound.

This book was read for the Aussie Author Challenge 2020


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