So begins "Mycenae," a story in The High Places, Fiona McFarlane's first story collection. Her stories skip across continents, eras, and genres to chart the borderlands of emotional life. In "Mycenae," she describes a middle-aged couple's disastrous vacation with old friends. In "Good News for Modern Man," a scientist lives on a small island with only a colossal squid and the ghost of Charles Darwin for company. And in the title story, an Australian farmer turns to Old Testament methods to relieve a fatal drought. Each story explores what Flannery O'Connor called "mystery and manners." The collection dissects the feelings--longing, contempt, love, fear--that animate our existence and hints at a reality beyond the smallness of our lives.
Salon's Laura Miller called McFarlane's The Night Guest "a novel of uncanny emotional penetration . . . How could anyone so young portray so persuasively what it feels like to look back on a lot more life than you can see in front of you?" The High Places is further evidence of McFarlane's preternatural talent, a debut collection that reads like the selected works of a literary great.
The Things They Carried won France's prestigious Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize; it was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award.
The energy crisis has come and gone. EcoLaw is enforced by insidious cartoon panda bears and their armies of viral-marketing children. The world watches as Pitcairn Island sinks into the Pacific, wondering if this, finally, will be the end of everything. Amongst it all, Max Galleon, anxious family man and blockbuster auteur, lives a life that he cannot remember.
What happens when you can outsource your memories – and even edit them?
When death can be reversed through digitisation, what is the point of living?
If the lines between real and unreal are fully blurred, can you really trust anyone, even yourself?
“The Island Will Sink is not ‘just’ a novel. It is the most assured and innovative debut I have read in a long time, one that has me excited about the political possibilities of postmodern fiction.”
Pip Smith, The Australian
“Science fiction fans will spot echoes of J. G. Ballard and Philip K. Dick in the narrative and quirky incidental moments (Max’s socks have an inbuilt compass and his house changes its settings when he enters). The Island Will Sink is groundbreaking enough to hope it might lead to greater interest in publishing Australian science fiction.”
The Saturday Paper
“Doyle can do humour, and has an engaging voice. The prose in science fiction may have to be information-rich, strenuously expository in its world-building, but Doyle never gets waylaid: she can find the poetry in the new world ... and the characters never seem as if they are overborne by the action or the conceptual framework.”
Owen Richardson, The Sydney Morning Herald
“The Island Will Sink is a deep and demanding read. Doyle postulates a world in which climate change has hastened social change and political control and exacerbated the gap between the haves and have-nots, but one in which society has ultimately adapted to climatic deprivations.”
Linda Morris, The Sydney Morning Herald
“The world of Doyle’s novel, while practically unrecognisable from our own, is meticulously and cleverly realised, from housing, transport and the sad irony of ubiquitous sustainability propaganda, to the convergence of technology and the self ... Like Don DeLillo’s White Noise for the climate-change generation...”
Alan Vaarwerk, Readings Monthly