Six Bedrooms by Tegan Bennett Daylight
‘…the past is in us, and not behind us. Things are never over’ wrote Tim Winton in ‘Aquifier’.
These words are the foreward of this collection of short stories and they set the tone from the get-go as the author promptly transports us back to our high school years.
Yes, those teen experiences – wonderful and hideous and embarrassing – are explored in Tegan Bennett Daylight’s newest offering but relax, there are other tales too set firmly on adulthood terra-firma so you won’t, thankfully, feel like you are trapped in your school yard of yester-year.
I am not usually a fan of books of short stories. Compilations in my book (excuse the pun) can be tricky. Just like a CD, there are songs you love, others, meh, not so much. Same, same for short story collections for me. So whilst I was keen to get my hands on Six Bedrooms, I admit I was nervous too. I don’t always want to read a book the size of War and Peace but generally short stories just leave me wanting….
Yet, I really liked most of these stories. A couple, ok, not so much….but this is probably more about me than the writing. I hate to say it, but I must – at 47 I think I am a little too far past my school years to want to read about the coming of age again. And again. And because I loved her stories set in adulthood, I just craved more of those. Selfish I know.
I really enjoyed Tegan’s other books Bombora, What Falls Away and Safety so I urge you to get those if you can. She is a damn fine storyteller.
I actually know Tegan (she is the sister of a most cherished friend) so I know she recently lost her much loved mother. I am assuming she wrote some of the lines in this book during that period because the way she describes loss, death and saying goodbye is perhaps the best I have ever read – and by best I mean, it is writing that can make your heart actually physically hurt.
Tegan delivers words and a way of explaining human joy and suffering that makes you want to keep those words close by, knowing that you will need them, want to re-read them, use them one day. It is a heady mix of poetry and punch.
I hope she writes something else soon. I just hope it is a novel, not a collection of short stories because I simply want more. End of story.
But that is just my 2 cents worth.