Pelican book review: “The Kid on the Karaoke Stage”, May 2011


This review was published in the Books section of Pelican magazine’s latest edition (Ed 3, Vol 82). Find Pelican at all good street press outlets, or read it online.

The Kid on the Karaoke Stage & Other Stories

Edited by Georgia Richter

Fremantle Press

The Kid on the Karaoke Stage & Other Stories is an anthology of short stories from new and emerging Western Australian writers (including the 2009 ‘Best Young Novelist of the Year’ Alice Nelson, and several luminaries from Perth literary/arts journal dotdotdash).

This is one of the best books I’ve read – of any genre – and that’s coming from someone who normally avoids short story collections. I had the idea in my head that such books were the refuge of experimental literary tossers; what an articulate friend termed ‘art-fuckery’. But not anymore.

Each story in this collection has at its heart a life-changing moment, and they’re not always the obvious moments. Some are fiction, and some are creative non-fiction, but every single one resonates like an epiphany. They’re quirky, often hilarious, and always compelling; this reviewer was moved to tears quite a few times.

Although written in nearly thirty different voices, the collection is arranged so coherently that each story flows naturally into the next. One story ends with a Korean woman escaping her war, and the next story begins with a young Australian soldier returning home from Kabul. The landscapes and the voices change, but the sentiment follows through.

I’m not going to say ‘go out and buy this book because you’d be supporting Western Australian literature’ (although that’s a fair reason to do so). Go out and buy this book because it is exquisitely beautiful.

(Oh, and this may or may not influence you, but there’s not a trace of Tim Winton in this book.)


Kaitlyn Plyley


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