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A quite brilliant collection of short stories…

9th June 2018

The Cartography of Others – a quite brilliant collection of short stories by Catherine McNamara.

A quite brilliant collection of short storiesThe Cartography of Others is a collection of twenty short stories by Catherine McNamara. Catherine is an Australian writer who has lived in Sydney, Paris, Mogadishu (before the unrest and violence), Ghana, and Italy. The variety of the locations in which she has lived (or has visited) comes through loud and clear in the settings for her stories.

The stories are short, but anything but simple. They are beautifully written and very sensual. And, in most, there is an unsettling element of  uncertainly. The characters are complex but well developed in few brief pages. They tend not to be at home in the locations in which they find themselves. A Japanese soprano recovering her lost voice on Corsica close to where a saint was once crucified… The mourning rites in an advertising agency in Ghana when one of the employees dies… A Ukrainian girl seducing the husband of a pregnant woman at a barbeque party… An English woman waiting (in vain) for her Chinese lover in a luxury hotel in Hong Kong… Domestic violence, a coming together of two people, and a beating in Paris… Murder in Sydney and the story of a young man, a yoga enthusiast, and a Chinese girl protected from the world by her family… I could go on (still fourteen stories to go…!), but I hope I have shown the breadth of subject matter and locations in Catherine’s work. Yet, perhaps seemingly a little oddly, they are all very clearly from the same pen… The style throughout the book is entirely consistent.

Catherine has received much critical acclaim. Annemarie Neary, the Irish short story writer, has written of The Cartography of Others‘A master of mood and atmosphere, Catherine McNamara has a keen eye for the startling image that so often holds the heart of a story – a blue tent the morning after a party, a naked woman spreading herself across a window high above Hong Kong. Her theme is desire – its ambiguities, betrayals, bruises, and joys – and this is fearless, sensuous writing. Her prose is meticulous, the stories is meticulous, the stories rich with insight and empathy. Highly recommended.’ 

TripFiction does not often quote other reviewers, but this seems an exception well worth making.

Tony for the TripFiction team

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  1. User: Rachel

    Posted on: 09/06/2018 at 10:25 am

    Great review thanks – I have ordered a copy and can’t wait to read it for myself!!