03.05. Absolutely thrilled that Favel Parrett’s Past the Shallows made the Miles Franklin shortlist

I am so thrilled that Past the Shallows made the shortlist.
I would love this book to get as much attention as possible- it is an absolute gem- I reviewed it in January – Review of Past the Shallows.

Here’s what the judges thought:
“Past the shallows is a moody, gripping book about love and dysfunction. Three brothers – Joe the eldest at nineteen, Miles in the middle and Harry around eight – survive the death of their mother in a car crash, but cannot escape the fury of their father, whose anger is reflected in the moods of the oceans of southern Tasmania, where he is failing to make a living as an abalone fisherman. Joe has left home, and the story concentrates on Miles and Harry. Miles has to work on his father’s boat, while Harry tries to find balance in the normalcy of the everyday, befriending a town outcast and his dog or staying with his best friend. Miles and Harry try to avoid their father, and look after each other in small protective ways. Neither can see a solution, and Miles feels burdened by the responsibility, and love, for his young brother. The unresolved circumstances and fleeting memories of the crash which killed their mother drive the corrosive family dynamics.

This story is sparsely and simply told, with an unwavering clarity. Parrett’s controlled, unadorned narrative completely immerses the reader in the marginalised and isolating world of the boy’s circumstances: the all-pervasive, random violence of their father, the ocean which both supports them and drains them, and their own strategies for surviving their situation. Harry – despite what he has endured, still innocent, gently thoughtful and sustained by his love of, and trust in, his brothers – is the heart of the story. Harry is almost tangible, so truthfully does Parrett realise his character: he is indeed a remarkable achievement.

Past the shallows is an intensely moving novel, about the importance and sustaining power of love and responsibility, and the tragedies which can unfold in their absence.”

The other shortlisted books are:

Blood by Tony Birch
What the judges thought

All That I Am by Anna Funder
I loved Anna Funder’s Stasiland- I’m really looking forward to getting around to this one at some point too.
What the judges thought

Foal’s Bread by Gillian Mears
What the judges thought

Cold Light by Frank Moorhouse
What the judges thought

I would love Past the Shallows to win- but maybe I should read the other books first!
Have you read any of the shortlisted books? Any particular favourite?

06.01. Great Books: Favel Parrett’s “Past the Shallows”

Great books are one of the best things, full stop, no returns.

I hope this is one of many posts this year about books that brighten up my life.  This one certainly did. 

I had the opportunity to revisit this wonderful book for a review I wanted to write.

Below, my thoughts.  Do yourself a favour and read this book.  It is truly wonderful.

This mesmerising debut tells the story three brothers trapped on the margins of society.  The story is told from the perspective of the two youngest brothers, Miles and Harry, as they seek escape from the abuses of their father, an embittered abalone fisherman. 

The wild and inhospitable landscape of southernmost Tasmania provides a beautiful, ominous tension throughout, with the sea and dark weather front and centre.  Right from the start, the book’s lyricism is enough to take your breath away:

“Out past the shallows, past the sandy-bottomed bays,

comes the dark water – black and cold and roaring.”

Harry’s innocent voice tells of the ordinariness of neglect in his world, the whole while maintaining an optimism at once totally believable and profoundly touching.
Miles, older, but just as helpless is profoundly aware of what will happen if he does not escape the violence of his father and the fate that is life in this town.  He speaks of the cannery:

“Most kids ended up working there.  Miles knew them; kids from school

 who left before the end of Year Nine.  But they didn’t look like kids

any more. They were hard.  Just big arm muscles and thick hands”

Past the Shallows completely immerses you as family secrets unravel and the boys’ lives are revealed with quiet urgency.  This is the kind of book you read in one greedy sitting.  And then read again. Compelling and beautiful.