Review: The Rest is Weight by Jennifer Mills

Title: The Rest Is Weight

Author: Jennifer Mills

Published: UQP July 2012

Synopsis: The award-winning stories in The Rest is Weight reflect Mills’ years in Central Australia, as well as her travels to Mexico, Russia and China. The collection displays a confident diversity of narrative voices and a brevity in style. In ‘The wind and other children’, a girl searches for her lost grandmother while her parents quarrel at home; in ‘Extra time’, a man contemplates inertia after toxic contamination changes life in a remote Australian town; a woman imagines a mother’s love for her autistic son in ‘The air you need’; and in ‘Hello, Satan’, a boy awaits his destiny at a roundabout at midnight, on the edge of a small town. In exploring the human, Jennifer Mills deftly weaves themes of longing, alienation, delusion, resilience, and love. Sometimes dreamy and hypnotic, sometimes comic and wry, these stories leave their mark. Collected or on their own, Mills’ fiction is both a joy and a wonder to read.

Status: Read on June 25, 2012 {Courtesy the author}

My Thoughts:

The Rest is Weight is a collection of short stories that explores the ordinary and the surreal, the search for human connection, the weight of loneliness, with a mix of wry humor and dark longing. Evoking a sense of place – the dry dusty outback of Australia, a Beijing street, these stories have diverse settings, Mills drawing on the places author Jennifer Mills has spent time in, including Mexico and Russian. There are twenty seven stories included in The Rest Is Weight, mostly around a half a dozen pages long. Some have been previously published but the majority are exclusive to this publication.

I found all of the stories beautifully written, Mills demonstrates a wonderful facility with language, deftly conjuring time, place and personality. I was surprised at how easily Mills slips into to such a wide variety of characters, her protagonists are female and male, young and old, gay and straight yet they all convincing.

While I enjoyed each of the stories, each very different from the others, a few did stand out for me.

‘The capital of missing persons‘ has my favourite beginning:

“It used to be known as the murder capital of Australia, but these days Adelaide is the capital of missing persons. Are people getting better at hiding the bodies? Or are the victims leaving, deserting the city before the murderers have a chance?” (p52)

I think Hello, Satan (p98)resonates with me because of the small town in which I live, where for some, a bargain with the devil may seem to be their only option to escape the cycle of poverty and dysfunction they are trapped in.

Moth (p192) took my breath away and listening to Mills read it on her blog here gives it extra impact.

Other favourites include The Milk in The Sky, The Opposite of Peace and Heat.

The Rest is Weight is a remarkable read, the stories are literary yet accessible, and speak to a wide audience. This is a volume you can dip in and out of at will but I was compelled to read it cover to cover. As I don’t often read short story collections and I will admit to initially being nervous about reviewing this book but I am pleased to say The Rest is Weight is easily one of the best collections of short stories by a single author I have ever read.

To learn more about Jennifer Mills, please click here to read her guest post at Book’d Out as a featured Australian Women Writer.

The Rest is Weight is available to purchase

July 2nd

@UQP I@BoomerangBooks I @Booktopia

via Booko

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: AWW Feature: Jennifer Mills on gender and voice « book'd out
  2. Margaret Lynette Sharp
    Jun 28, 2012 @ 21:31:54

    Lovely review of what sounds to be a highly enjoyable book!

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  3. BetteRose Ryan
    Jun 29, 2012 @ 01:06:15

    I enjoyed listening to Moth and though the outcome was predictable, the story itself was fascinating in both structure and cadence. When the end came, it was more like puff than an explosion which made it all the more dramatic and memorable. Thank you so much for the link.

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    Reply

  4. Trackback: 2012 AWW Challenge: Short Stories and Poetry « Australian Women Writers Challenge
  5. Trackback: Literary works 2012 – what’s being reviewed? | Australian Women Writers Challenge

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