Buy Flames by Robbie Arnott from Australia's Online Independent Bookstore, Boomerang Books.
Book DetailsISBN: 9781925603521
» Have you read this book? We'd like to know what you think about it - write a review about Flames book by Robbie Arnott and you'll earn 50c in Boomerang Bucks loyalty dollars (you must be a Boomerang Books Account Holder - it's free to sign up and there are great benefits!)
Book Review: Flames by Robbie Arnott - Reviewed by CloggieA (12 May 2018)
5 stars “Black spurs of the mountain range poked high and sharp above them, daggering up into the pale sky. The sheer cliffs that fell away from these peaks revealed great faces of jagged Jurassic rock. Down where the land was less vertical snowgums gnarled their way out of frozen dirt, their trunks a patchwork of grey-brown-green, as if all the colours of the forest had poured themselves into a single species of tree.”
Flames is the first novel by Australian advertising copywriter and author, Robbie Arnott. About a third of the McAllister women die twice. Levi McAllister’s mother, Edith came back for four days after she was cremated, hung around adorned in ferns and moss, then burst into flames on his father, Jack’s front lawn. Levi’s gotten over that, but his sister Charlotte is still suffering a deep grief. Levi’s somewhat twisted logic leads him to a bizarre solution: he will build her a coffin.
When Charlotte stumbles upon his plans, she flees: “All she has left of her mother are photos and memories and a family tradition of flames, and she won’t let him take them from her. Charlotte will burn, tomorrow or in half a century, but she will burn. And she might return. Though that isn’t the point.” Charlotte heads south.
From there, the story progresses through different narrators and from different perspectives with each successive chapter. Each is titled with a significant word and, while the connections between them are sometimes tenuous, sometimes clear and strong, all falls into place by the final chapter. Most of the chapters are in narrative form, but other formats also feature: a series of letters; entries from a diary; and a chapter from a yet-to-be-published book.
Arnott uses an assortment of characters to tell the tale: a paranoid woodwork enthusiast; a nosy small-town matron with literary aspirations; a private investigator with a thirst for gin; a deity in the form of a water rat; a wombat-farmer slowly descending into madness; a National Park Ranger; a tuna fisherman in close partnership with a seal; a fire entity in human form. For such a short read, the characters have a surprising depth, even those whose names we never learn.
Arnott’s plot is original, and he keeps the reader intrigued with twists and turns and a dramatic climax. He takes the reader through emotional highs and lows as his characters feel joy and sorrow, grief, love and lust, fear, wonder, and loneliness. There’s plenty of humour, some of it subtle, some truly laugh-out-loud (Mavis and Thurston are major contributors to this, with imaginative names and salutations), and a genuinely satisfying conclusion.
It will be immediately apparent to anyone even vaguely familiar with Tasmania that Arnott is on intimate terms with his island, and his exquisite descriptive prose definitely does this gem of a place justice. Richard Flanagan says of this novel: “A strange and joyous marvel” and it’s easy to see why: there’s certainly a bit of Flanagan-like magic, but without his usual darkness, in this outstanding debut novel. More please, Mr Arnott!!
Robbie Arnott was born in Launceston in 1989. His writing has appeared in Island, the Lifted Brow, Kill Your Darlings and the 2017 anthology Seven Stories. He won the 2015 Tasmanian Young Writers' Fellowship and the 2014 Scribe Nonfiction Prize for Young Writers. Robbie lives in Hobart and is an advertising copywriter.
Boomerang Books customers who bought Flames by Robbie Arnott also bought the following titles:
© 2003-2019. All Rights Reserved. Eclipse Commerce Pty Ltd - ACN: 122 110 687 - ABN: 49 122 110 687