#16: I’m Ready Now, by Nigel Featherstone

I’m Ready Now is the second of three novellas by Nigel Featherstone published by Blemish Books. I reviewed the first, Fall On Me, last year and I’ve now read all three (I read the third, The Beach Volcano, before starting this website, but hope to revisit it in a future post). Each novella is self-contained with its own plot and characters, but there are thematic linkages between them, along with an intimate engagement with the domestic that allows for the exploration of large themes within small worlds. I’m Ready Now follows Gordon, a gay man living in Sydney, and his mother, Lynne, who’s flying in from Hobart following the death of her husband—Gordon’s stepdad.

The mother-son relationship between Gordon and Lynne is not a close one, and we sense early on that their pending reunion is tinged with both tenderness and a desire not to intrude too closely upon each other. This particular kind of family relationship is one that I’ve not seen often explored in literature, and it was wonderful to read such a deft treatment of it in this book. Featherstone weaves the first-person narration of Gordon and Lynne into a coherent whole, allowing us to see the distances and differences between them as their worlds come together in Gordon’s small house in Glebe.

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#13: Fall On Me, by Nigel Featherstone

Nigel Featherstone’s Fall On Me is the first of three novellas published by Blemish Books in 2011/2012, and it’s an ideal example of the novella form and what differentiates it from longer novels. From the first few pages, Featherstone takes the reader inside the quotidian routine of Lou Bard, a thirty-eight-year-old café owner and single father; he wakes, “as he has done for as long as he can remember […] alone at dawn”, and as he showers and reflects on everything from his middle-aged body to the act of shaving to his son Luke and to the newly-finished renovations on his shop, we find that we’ve slipped easily into his life and mind, gleaning much about both his present and past from the smallest of details, with questions raised that pique curiosity and keep the pages turning. There are hints at past tragedy in Lou’s emotional state, his closeness with Luke, the absence of Luke’s mother (and the presence of Anna Denham, “their current housemate”). The short first chapter finishes with Lou reading a note left by Luke, and the ending of the note strikes at the beating heart of this carefully-scoped novella-length story:

PS: Be brave, because that’s what I have been, more brave than I’ve been before.

By carefully scoped, I mean that it somehow seems clear from this moment that this will be a story not-quite-broad-enough for a novel but much-too-much for a short story, and that the family life and relationship between Lou and his son Luke will form the central arc, even as external events and social pressures act upon them to force change.
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