The Butcherbird Stories

The Butcherbird Stories

Arguably the author's most personal and accessible work to date

Eleven stories. Each like a matchstick struck to illuminate the darkness. Evocations of place ranging from a Bangla jungle to the deep, blue Danube to a winter beach in Melbourne excite and seduce. But what truly draws the reader in are the unexpected landscapes of people's lives, explored with rare sensitivity, grace and a fearless truthfulness.

A lonely St Kilda chef invites a beautiful busker to use his spare room. A father sings a lullaby to comfort his young daughter who has woken from a nightmare. A taxi driver picks up an old-world gentleman who is reluctant to disclose his destination. A young immigrant boy growing up in the western suburbs of Melbourne daydreams of infinite possibility.

Death, loneliness, passion and belief: Patrić takes on the big questions in life and writes about the small people of the world with stylistic verve and deep humanity. This collection of stories reveals the author, best known for his awardwinning novels, as a true master of the short story form.

A. S. Patrić is a bookseller and teacher of creative writing. His debut novel Black Rock White City won the Miles Franklin Award in 2016. Atlantic Black, his second novel, was published in late 2017. The Butcherbird Stories is his third collection of stories. He lives in bayside Melbourne with his wife and two daughters.

The Butcherbird Stories
Transit Lounge Publishing
Author: A. S. Patrić
ISBN: 9781925760101
RRP: $29.99

Interview with A. S. Patrić

Question: What inspired your passion for writing?

A. S. Patrić: If I saw a great movie when I was a kid, I wanted to act or to direct films afterwards. A guitar riff on the radio wasn't just a pleasing sound, it was an act of transformation casting a spell over me. But where music drifted in and out, books entered the world and stayed. They could also promise change but offered me a way to experience permanence. It's still not really a passion for writing as much as it is a hunger for art"which I can feed just as easily with a sweet eighties pop song as a gallery offering. Making art though is about getting inside it, because I think that kid daydreaming about directing or acting was really looking for a way through the screen. It wasn't as childish as wanting life to be like a great movie, more that it would at least make sense. The world outside of art so rarely does.


Question: Where did the idea for The Butcherbird Stories collection come from?

A. S. Patrić: I had a dream about monkeys in a jungle painting the portrait of a lady. I woke exhilarated by the elegance of the woman in the frame and the exceptional skill coordinated by these chaotic animals, and then realised it was impossible. And that it was a great story idea. When I wrote 'The Bengal Monkey' it became a watershed moment in my writing and my stories began to flow from a deeper source"and five years later I had The Butcherbird Stories.


Question: What message do you hope readers take from The Butcherbird Stories?

A. S. Patrić: "'Tis a fearful thing, to love what death can touch." I used that quote as an epigraph for The Butcherbird Stories and it might be the best answer I can offer your question (because I don't really have a message).


Question: Do you believe winning the Miles Franklin changed Australia's perception of you?

A. S. Patrić: I won the Miles Franklin for my debut novel so Australia's perception of me barely existed before the award. That was certainly a change, for me if not the country at large. Before Black Rock White City I'd published two collections of stories to little fanfare.


Question: How much of your inspiration comes from real life and real people?

A. S. Patrić: Most of my inspiration comes from real life and people, some of it from novels and short stories, music and films"the occasional dream. And while I read essays, biographies, histories and a lot of non-fiction generally, I rarely write non-fiction though because without the lens of art, I'm very near-sighted, if not actually blind. Even so, if writing doesn't come from real life and real people, then it's all just shadow puppets on a wall. Art eventually is the only way to see whole spectrums of human experience.


Question: What advice do you have for aspiring writers or artists?

A. S. Patrić: Publication can come early or late, but don't wait for gatekeepers to let your through to your own soul (which is what writing is really all about).


Interview by Brooke Hunter

The Butcherbird Stories
Transit Lounge Publishing
Author: A. S. Patrić
ISBN: 9781925760101
RRP: $29.99




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