Swimming in Silk

Darren Williams, Author
Darren Williams, Author Allen & Unwin Australia $14.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-86373-849-1
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Winner of Australia's Vogel Literary Award, this first novel examines the lives of four people who unexpectedly find themselves together for a few days in a quiet seaside community. The four include Cliff, an alcoholic who spends his days drifting from bar to bar; Jade, his latest bedmate, who's on the run from her strict father; Susan, Cliff's sister who has left her husband; and Daniel, an old friend of Cliff's who has returned to his hometown penniless and depressed. The quartet form an uneasy alliance as they go to the beach, prepare dinner, wander around the town and generally avoid talking about their various problems. Relations grow more tense when Susan sleeps with Daniel but then agrees to go back to her husband. Then, Cliff ends up seriously hurt--either through a suicide attempt or a fight--and spends months recuperating in the hospital, obviously in unsteady shape. The novel is rather baffling because there's little distinction between actual events and the fantasies of characters. Williams does have talent--particularly in describing setting and the feelings of his characters, but they're not a likable crew and in the absence of a compelling plot, readers will find it hard to maintain interest. (Apr.)
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