My short story collection ‘Eight Pieces on Prostitution’ is now available for $9.99 on Authors Unlimited, part of the ASA website, as well as
The stories span the whole of my writing life and include my first published story, ‘The Man Who Liked to Come with the News’, which Frank Moorhouse included in ‘The State of the Art’, 1983. My first novel, ‘Tunnel Vision’, published the following year, is set in a Melbourne massage parlour, and I have continued to return to the subject of prostitution in my novels and short stories, notably in ‘The House at Number 10’ and in this collection. ‘Where the Ladders Start’ is a long story, almost a novella, based around a suspicious death. Many of the stories are set in Canberra, where I lived for thirty years. Once the city gained self government, it pioneered the de-criminalisation of prostitution, which remains an interesting prism through which to view our national capital.
The cover design is a based on a painting by Bartolome Esteban Murillo called ‘Two Women at a Window’, which is held at the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC. Though the women in the painting are probably prostitutes, it is not absolutely clear; there’s an ambiguity about them, as well as an amused self-awareness. I like this very much and feel that it suits my stories.
My story, Mrs B, is now up on Meanjin’s website, along with many of the contributions to the Canberra centenary issue, including David Headon’s wonderful essay on the Griffins. See my earlier blog post on this.
I really like the illustration Meanjin has chosen to go with my story, in which flowers play an important part.
Here’s an example. Mrs B, who has had to give up her dress shop at one end of Acland Street, St Kilda, finds work in a massage parlour at the other end. She receives a lot of flowers.
‘They had a kind of lop-sided concentration about them, as if, in their freshly watered folds, was stored a knowledge of all the flower arrangements clients had ever bought for their favourite girls. They were smooth to the touch, even the rose thorns were smooth, as though, out of nature or beyond it, they might never wilt. And yet they were real flowers. They had been plucked alive.’
‘Mrs B’ is one of the stories in my soon-to-be- published collection, Eight Pieces On Prostitution.