cover image Friends and Dark Shapes

Friends and Dark Shapes

Kavita Bedford. Europa, $17 trade paper (224p) ISBN 978-1-60945-664-1

Bedford beautifully portrays the life of an Australian Indian writer struggling with grief a year after the death of her father. The unnamed 29-year-old woman mourns alone in Sydney, her mother having returned to her native India to cope, and her boyfriend having broken up with her. She finds community with her housemates in suburban Redfern: former teen model Niki, whose father eluded the Khmer Rouge; Sami, whose Palestinian parents want him to marry a Muslim; and Bowerbird, a guitarist from California. The narrator muses, “We are turning thirty and things don’t look like we imagined they would.” Notably so for Bowerbird, whose sister has the same type of cancer that killed the narrator’s father. Along the way, the narrator reminisces about her father’s dark moods, which he described as “sea creature days.” For a spell, she works on a series of magazine pitches about Redfern’s gentrification while ruminating on misconceptions about other neighborhoods (“people tread their well-worn grooves and resist knowing more”). It’s an illuminating series of episodes, but unfortunately, Bedford abandons them to dwell on the narrator’s processing of grief. While the author does a great job portraying the friends, the reminiscences of “dark shapes” remain a bit too ephemeral. Still, she pulls off an insightful view of a city in flux. (Apr.)