Tag Archives: short stories

Smithereens

18 Feb

Smithereens by Shaun Micallef, Penguin Books, 2004 (re-released in 2011, but original version reviewed here)

smithereens by shaun micallef. Mwah!The mayor’s wife was on the verandah to meet me in sensible shoes offset by an insensible hat. She also had a décolletage that not only demanded to be looked at but leapt out and ran across the lawn to slap your face for doing so. A complicated woman.

Oh, Shaun Micallef. How I love you so.

[At a dinner party] before dessert is served, the table should be completely cleared of all dishes from the previous courses, and these should then be washed loudly in the kitchen with lots of audible sighing.

Shaun Micallef (aka My Future Husband {If He Wasn’t Already Happily Married with Children, Living in Another City, Pretty Much Out of My Age Range and Entirely Out of My League}) is a freaking genius. We all know him from his sketch, talk, (mock) news and quiz shows, but you should really get to know him as an author, too.

Smithereens is a collection of short stories and plays by this now 48-year-old. Many are just two pages long – the longest is 12 pages – but each one is so jam-packed with absurd humour that I found myself taking ages to read each chapter, as I had to pause to think about the clever wording and hilarious set-ups all the freaking time. It’s actually for that reason that I needed to space out my Smithereens reading sessions – I didn’t want to just get in the ‘ha, that’s funny’, skimming-to-the-next-page mindset. This is a book to be savoured.

The plotlines vary wildly. There’s the death of Pope John Paul I, an imagined meeting with the then Govenor General Peter Hollingworth, a tale of a small-town GP who tells a depressed woman that she’s depressed because she’s actually a bloody awful person… they’re all here, and lots more, wrapped in crazy, sometimes acidic, always imaginative prose. But it’s not the stories themselves that are so awesome – it’s Shaun’s clever, clever words. Having said that, my favourite would have to be ‘Visiting Rites (A Play)’, a dark, bittersweet and perhaps pretty accurate tale of a son visiting his dad in a nursing home. Happy times.

Read it when you want to enter a place where anything is possible. It will also help if you do it when you don’t mind having to think – or laugh, loudly and often – while you read.