I love my brother Donny to bits. He’s the funny one in our family. He sings and yodels “There’s a Track Leading Back” and plays the guitar like his heroes, Slim Dusty and Smoky Dawson. I follow Donny, both of us barefoot, around the farm. I’ve been following him all my life. Since I was old enough to walk. Our old dog Streak runs between our legs sometimes. I’d follow Donny to the ends of the earth if I had to. To gain his love. He dishes it out to me in little bits to keep me in my place. To show he’s boss of us. Specially as I’m a girl.

 He is waiting for me again this morning, out on the same post, watching me with one eye slanted as always, my jet black crow. He is out for what he can get, the crow. I give him titbits, a piece of meat or a...

“Knitting and Other Stories”, from the 2013 Margaret River Short Story Competition, edited by Richard Rossiter Published by Margaret River Press, 2013 (First published on Margaret River Press website) cover-of-anthology The three stories I’ve chosen to review attracted me first and foremost by the authentic voice and original characters they contained. Other elements I looked for in selecting my favourites (always a subjective experience!) were fascinating story lines, emotional impact and jazzy language. This was the second year of the Western Australia Margaret River Story Competition; 24 stories were chosen from 256 entries from all over Australia to go in the Collection. A majority of the stories focus on characters who inhabit the social fringes and exhibit eccentricities, like the woman in the winning well-crafted entry “Knitting”, who shuns marriage and romance, yet knits obsessively as her mother once did, and ultimately embraces the idea of enforced single parenthood. Other topics include marriage breakdowns, adolescent sexual experience and quirky behaviours linked to grief through loss. Many of the stories are dark, but there are also flashes of humour and irony that lure the reader into their aura. There are so many stories in this collection that possess one or other of the many criteria that attract readers: the humour and irony in “Down on the Farm” (Louise D’Arcy); the simplicity and empathy enshrined in both The Girl on the Train (Amanda Clarke) and “The Bend in the Road” (Kathy George); and the mystery in The Wolf at the Door by Daniela Giorgi.