cover image Stray Bats

Stray Bats

Margo Lanagan. Small Beer, $10 (72p) ISBN 978-1-61873-175-3

The 50 very short impressionistic stories in this evocative collection from Lanagan (Yellowcake) take inspiration from the works of a wide range of Australian female poets, each of whom is credited in the acknowledgements. In flash fiction pieces that occasionally read like character sketches or prose poems themselves, Lanagan conjures eerie ghostly girls, travelers lost in strange lands, and, most frequently, fey folk and spellcasters on the fringes of society. Lanagan fully inhabits the characters, conveying short bursts of intimate emotion and precise psychologies in rich, sensuous prose: the shapeshifter of “Foxwife” inhales nocturnal scents “of star and moth, earth and fungus, corpse and sister, frog and scuttling mouthful;” the witch narrator of “Flight School” describes flying “between hill- and cloudscape... the wind in our teeth.” Kathleen Jennings’ delicate line drawings provide perfect complements to Lanagan’s fairy tale imagery. What these tales may lack in plot, they make up for in atmosphere and beauty. Agent: Jill Grinberg, Jill Grinberg Literary Management. (Nov.)