Deep South – Stories from Tasmania

Eds R Crane and D Wood (2012)

I enjoy a good short story and a good collection even more. The cover notes on this book claim that it is the first published volume of short fiction for Tassie. Can that really be so? It is an historical collection from the 1860s onward and has a very good explanatory Introduction.

Yes, it helps if you have memories of some of the countryside described and the people. However, the charm and insight of most of the stories are not limited. Marcus Clarke is represented as well as Nicholas Shakespeare, Rohan Wilson and Danielle Wood as well as such old favourites as Margaret Scott.

The stories are wide-ranging from historical concerns as well as contemporary issues. I particularly enjoyed Margaret Scott’s ‘Preserves’ (2000) which encapsulates so much of the Tasman peninsula community she came to love as well as the now-hilarious  ‘over-kill’ period piece ‘The Tasmanian Devil’ by James Leakey (1871).

The first story, ‘Black Crows: An Episode of “Old Van Dieman”’ by Alice Werner, (1886), is a quite remarkable piece with a moral view that resonates far beyond the substance of the story.

The lovely cover photo is Olegas Truchanas’ children playing at the lost Lake Pedder, taken by himself.

~ John

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