Every Move You Make Aug 7, 2008
David Malouf is an outstanding Australian writer of novels, short stories, poetry and even three opera libretti. His most recent work is a collection of short stories, “Every Move You Make.” There is no thematic unity or overlap between the seven stories in the collection other than the fact that they are all set in Australia at various times, in various places.
The first, and longest of the stories, “The Valley of the Lagoons,” is a story of a poor boy wanting to belong. He wants to join friends at the valley of the Lagoons, to him an exotic destination where camping, fishing and all sorts of outdoor fun occurs. Once he finally gets there near-tragedy results and the visit is not what he thought it would be.
The second story is the title story and involves a mysterious builder whose designs are flawless but whose execution is haphazard. He often leaves his houses unfinished, even with windows missing. It becomes a great love story, albeit a mysterious one.
“War Baby” is the story of a young man who accepts his fate and his draft lottery number and volunteers to fight in Viet Nam. He returns, remarkably unchanged except for shedding some of the blitheness of youth.
The gem of the rest of them is “Mrs. Porter and the Rock” in which the overly-sensitive Mrs. Porter goes to Ayers Rock with her son. As can happen at Uluru, as the aborigines call it, strange things happen to Mrs. Porter’s mind as the Rock becomes almost alive. Or is it fully alive?
These are literary short stories; they tend to dawdle occasionally and spin around one axis for perhaps a moment too long for impatient readers, but the language is elegant, the images imaginative and the Australian atmosphere is always present and always effective. A challenging, but rewarding read.