by George Kaplan.
Breaking Beauty puts one of the greatest obsessions of our time under the spotlight; a collection of 28 stories that explore the theme of beauty, challenging our perception of what can be beautiful by looking beyond the surface, written by established and emerging authors who have been awarded and published in Australia and internationally.
The Clothesline speaks with Editor Lynette Washington via email and begins by asking why she chose beauty as a theme.
“It seems to me that we are obsessed with beauty and I hoped that the writers would take liberties with the theme and examine it from all angles. I was desperately hoping I wouldn’t be swamped with clichéd stories about physical beauty – especially female physical beauty – because aren’t we already saturated with those kinds of ideas and images?
“Well, I didn’t need to worry. The writers – all brilliant talents, brimming with ideas – were too clever to be caught up in anything as obvious as that. They examined the idea closely and with a curious eye. They looked at its gizzards and found beauty in the strangest of places. In graveyards, vineyards, finials, cupcakes, train stations, suburban driveways, death and artificial physical enhancement devices (you’ll have to read the book to find out what that means!)
“Of course they also found it in human relationships – in the innocence of childhood, love, sex, pain and heartbreak.”
Tell us about some of the stories in Breaking Beauty.
“Picking favourites among these stories would be like picking my favourite child! Each story impacted me in some way; some made me laugh, some made me cry, some made me stop and rethink the way I see the world.
“Amy T. Matthews’ This Is the Body of Wonderful Jones is a confronting story about the way the pornography industry dehumanises women, but it’s told in a very unique and humanising way. It’s personal, powerful, moving and spot on.
“Bryan Whalen has two stories in the collection, Duck and Self Portrait with Angel Olsen. Bryan’s writing is really special; he’s all about guts and raw emotion. His style is something like stream-of-consciousness. It feels like he’s just dumped his heart and soul on the page, but in fact it’s a perfectly, painstakingly crafted story. I think he’s brilliant and can’t wait to see what he publishes next.
“It’s impossible for me to talk about Breaking Beauty without talking about Melanie Kinsman’s A Paper Woman. This story – and also Katherine Arguile’s Wabi-Sabi – tore my heart out. Both stories deal with pain and loss but find exquisite beauty in these desperate moments.
“There are lighter moments too. Matt Gabriel’s story To My Son is a razor-sharp satire on the beauty industry. It’s completely kooky and made me laugh out loud. I adore it.”
Who are some of the other writers in Breaking Beauty?
“There are 27 writers in the collection, and it’s a combination of established and emerging writers. Sean Williams, who is a New York Times best-selling author who has written over 40 novels and apparently never sleeps, contributed The Beholder which is set in the same world as his Twinmaker series.
“Rebekah Clarkson is one of Australia’s most highly awarded and acclaimed short story writers. She was runner up in the ABR Elizabeth Jolley short story prize last year and winner of the Reader’s Choice award.
“Annabel Evitts is an emerging writer of enormous talent. She’s currently working on her first novel which promises to be very special. Annabel’s writing is infused with a subtle poetry that is beautiful to read.
“Rachael Mead is one of Adelaide’s most beloved poets, and in Breaking Beauty she branches out into short stories with the perfectly titled Pissing Blood For Lucy Liu and proves that she has enormous skill in this form too.
“Stefan Luszczuk, who won the Vogel Literary Award, contributed The Window Winder, a mind-bending, gore-filled love story.
“There are too many others to mention them all individually – this is just a small snippet!
It seems like people are talking about short stories a lot these days. Why do you think that is?
“Well, I’ve always read short stories so for me it seems like a natural thing to go to a bookshop and seek out the short story collections! But it’s true that for a long time publishers have held this mysterious view that short stories don’t sell.
“Of course that’s about fashion, and it’s cyclical. There seems to be a bit of a resurgence of the short story going on at the moment. A lot of people are saying short stories suit our fast-paced lives and they are good to read on portable devices like phones and tablets. Maybe that has something to do with it?
“Personally, I like them because they give you a complete world in a tiny space. You are taken on a journey and often surprised by how far you can go in just a few pages. It’s a perfect little bite-sized piece of story that doesn’t require the commitment of a novel.”
Breaking Beauty is available from all good bookshops and through the MidnightSun Publishing website: Click here to purchase your copy.
Click here for your your chance to win a copy of Breaking Beauty.
Click here to read Taissa Ceric’s book review of Breaking Beauty.