The last Kill Your Darlings Podcast of 2018 is all about summer reading, so sit back and listen to our top picks to take with you on your break. We have books we discovered in 2018, books we wished we’d gotten around to reading and books we think you’d enjoy while sitting by a pool or on the beach (unless you’re Alan). We also take a look at Black Inc’s Best Summer Stories, edited by Aviva Tuffield, and some of our KYD Members share their summer reads. Enjoy your summer, whatever you read, and we’ll see you in 2019!
Let us know what you think by rating and reviewing in your app of choice!
Our reads and recs (of this summer and others):
Best Summer Stories – Aviva Tuffield
Americanah – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The Wayfarers Series – Becky Chambers
Beautiful Revolutionary – Laura Elizabeth Woollett
The Spotted Dog – Kerry Greenwood
Welcome to Orphancorp – Marlee Jane Ward
The Voidwitch Saga – Corey J. White
Less – Andrew Sean Greer
Goosebumps – R.L. Stine
The Unexpected Education of Emily Dean – Mira Robertson
The Neapolitan Series – Elena Ferrante
The Witch Elm – Tana French
Wundersmith: The Calling of Morrigan Crow – Jessica Townsend
Big Little Lies – Liane Moriarty
Me and Mr Booker – Cory Taylor
History – Elsa Morante
The Fifth Season – N.K. Jemisin
Monkey Grip – Helen Garner
Our KYD Members will be reading:
The World Was Whole – Fiona Wright
Milkman – Anna Burns
Conversations with Friends – Sally Rooney
Colouring the Rainbow – Dino Hodge
Dogwalker – Arthur Bradford
Borderlands/La Frontera – Gloria E. Anzaldúa
My Antonia – Will Cather
Thanks to Melbourne Library Service – Kathleen Syme Library and Community Centre for studio space.
Meaghan Dew (voiceover): Welcome back to the Kill Your Darlings Podcast. This is our last episode for the year, and like everyone else all we can think about right now is the summer break. But whether you have time off or not, now is a great time to sit in the sun and read. So sit back and listen to our recommendations. We have books we’ve read this year, books we wish we’d gotten to, and Black Inc’s Best Summer Stories, which has a bit of something for everyone. But first, what is a summer read anyway?
Meaghan Dew (studio): Hello and welcome back to the final Kill Your Darlings Podcast of 2018. We are going to be talking about our summer reads today, so to get us started I actually have four people on the podcast today, which is a bit of a new one for me. So I might do a bit of a roundtable. As you remember, I’m Meaghan Dew, and…
Alan Vaarwerk: My name is Alan Vaarwerk, I’m the editor of Kill Your Darlings.
Ellen Cregan: My name’s Ellen Cregan and I’m the first book club coordinator at Kill Your Darlings.
Alice Cottrell: And my name is Alice Cottrell, I’m the publication manager at Kill Your Darlings.
MD: I know that all of you have probably been hanging out for summer to get here, I have a huge to-be-read pile and I’m sure you guys are all in the same situation, so I wanted to find out actually – what are your summer reading habits? Do you have a specific pile ready to go, do you grab things as they come to you, what approach do you take?
AV: Well I usually kind of, if I’m traveling for the holidays, if I’m going going back to visit family or something, I usually have a list of about five, five or six books that I sort of take with me, that I’ve wanted to get to throughout the year, and then I’ll take them back with me, they’ll take up a whole bunch of space in my luggage, and then I’ll probably ignore them. They’ll just sit unread for the whole of the holidays, while I kind of find something a bit more trashy or a bit more summery, I suppose, to read. I don’t know, my summer reading habits are never, never the way I plan them to be.
MD: So you start with project reads and you tend to move on to things that just catch your fancy as you go, I’ll have to come back to that because I’d like to know what sort of books you do end up reading when you’re picking ones that just catch your fancy, or are maybe a bit lighter – but Ellen, are you a project reader when it comes to summer reads, and does that differ depending on whether you’re sort of at home or away?
EC: I don’t think so. I think I normally have kind of a different approach where I either attack the pile on the side of the bed that sometimes gets, like, a metre tall towards November, I reread things over summer, I find, and I also have like comfort reads. So I would like to read a really sort of cheesy crime novel over summer, I like to do that every summer because it’s kind of like, it feels like a nice blanket or something.
MD: I feel like one of the nice things with crime in particular, if it’s in a series, is there is that, you know exactly what the author is doing as you go in, you have certain expectations and the joy a lot of the time is in seeing how they meet those expectations rather than how they diverge from those. So I agree with you there, it’s kind of a nice, quiet a way to start the holidays. What about you Alice?
AC: I think I’m the same with Alan that I go for project reads, but I would say that I successfully complete them! (LAUGHS).
AV: All right!
AC: No, it depends if I’m home or away actually. I went on holiday by myself and I got an incredible amount of reading done then, so that’s the kind of situation where I read really long books, just because I feel like I’ve got the time to dedicate to it. I find it really hard to split up a huge book into, kind of, you know, reading on the tram and then reading 20 pages before bedtime. So for instance I read History by Elsa Miranti which is apparently Elena Ferrante’s favourite book and interestingly has a very similar name to her pseudonym, but that’s about 600 pages, a very long intense Italian novel set just after the Second World War, and I think I read it probably like a fifth, or maybe even two per cent the capacity of Elena Ferrante, but that’s the kind of thing that I feel like I have to have time to focus and give all my attention to.
MD: I’m kind of with you on that one, I tend to save stuff, things that are more propelled by a plot, I feel like I use up during the year, on the train, or I’ve only got 20 minutes before I get to this place, and maybe I don’t have as much of my brain sort of focused on it as I would with a project read, and I find that something lighter is something that I can pick up in those circumstances, and, yeah, holidays do tend to be for project reads for me.
AC: I’m devastated that they have introduced Wi-Fi on planes now, long-haul flights, because I go back to England where I’m from, every year or so, long-haul flights is when I felt like I got a real solid reading done. But now there’s Wi-Fi, the temptation to just be messing around on your phone is big.
MD: I am one of those nerds who likes to read books that are set in the place that they’re going to, so I read Americanah on the way to the US, just like all in one go, and I think I used that holiday to tell myself, oh yeah, I’d read a ton of books when I travel, but again I was basing that on when I traveled by myself – and I traveled with my mum recently, and I realised I was just vaguely irritated the whole time, and it’s not my mum’s fault, it’s that I had all these books that I brought with me and I didn’t get to most of them, and it was really disappointing for me to be honest. So not that I prefer books to people all of the time, but sometimes it’s definitely my preference.
AV: I had a similar thing when I was, I went to the US earlier this year and had a bunch of books ready to, ready to go on the flight, and then kind of within half an hour of getting on the plane they, they turned the lights off, and so put us into, like, into sleep mode and so all these, all this stuff that I had to read, you either be the jerk who puts their light on and annoys everyone around you who’s trying to sleep, or you just, or you just have to wait.
MD: I have to admit I am that jerk, so I’m owning that – but I’m also ridiculously over-prepared for flights, I seem to think that it’s going to extend for four days, and if I don’t have exactly the right material that I’m going to want to read at that time that it’s going to be wasted time in some way. So I think last time I was like, I had magazines on the iPad, on one of the apps, I had ebooks on there, I had my Kobo for if there was too much screen glare and I wanted like an e-ink one instead, I also had physical copies for that bit where they walk around and tell you to put away your devices, even if your device doesn’t even have any Wi-Fi capabilities, and they’re still like, you’ve got to put it away.
EC: I feel like reading on a plane you get a different reading experience as well. Like you’re so enclosed, and the air’s so stale, and maybe that leaves you with a different imprint of the book after you finish as well.
AC: So if planes aren’t your favourite place to read, then where is your favourite kind of summer reading spot?
EC: Um, I guess you can’t really beat the beach, under an umbrella, but, yeah…
AV: I disagree, I think you can beat the beach.
EC: Really! (LAUGHS).
AC: You realise you don’t have to be in the sea at the time, you can stay some distance away…
AV: Go on?
EC: In a rock pool! That’s the only time he’ll read at the beach.
AC: Actually, beach wouldn’t be my favourite pick. I just find it hard to get comfortable.
AV: Yeah, that’s what I mean, yeah.
AC: Are you sitting up cross-legged, or are you lying down, are you on your front, are you on your back, it’s just it’s hard to stay in one position.
AV: Near a beach? At a pool is fine, or on a kind of sun lounge, near a beach…
AC: Any kind of transportation for me is really the ideal. Like, I go to my aunt and uncle’s for Christmas, and that’s about a three and a half hour train journey…
EC: That’s nice.
AC:.. And that’s great, just for – although I did find that one of my strange cousins who I hope isn’t listening to this podcast, um, was on the same train as me on Christmas Eve once, and I saw them on the platform and they didn’t see me, so I hid so that I could get on another train carriage so that I could read my prepared books, I wasn’t prepared to give up that time.
EC: We’ve all been there.
MD: I tend to gravitate towards cafes in general, because I think you can’t get past having that nice sort of pleasant buzz in the background, and also the pleasant buzz of a steady stream of caffeine is usually also nice… but also in summer I really love reading on the balcony after dark, so you don’t have to worry about getting sunburned, you know that you don’t have work the next morning so you can actually stay up until you finish the book, as opposed to feeling like you have to put it away and you have to be sensible.
EC: I tend to like finding the quietest place I can I think, especially if I’m away with friends, which I find I often do over the summer holidays. Like, they’ll be playing sports, and I’ll be like, you know what, I’m just gonna go sit behind this caravan, don’t worry about me, I’m fine, and just get stuck into a book.
AC: I’m the same – enjoy your frisbee, I’m gonna just be here.
EC: I think a favourite memory of reading a book, it’s actually not that nice I guess, but I was reading the third Elena Ferrante book, the third Neapolitan novel, and I became so enraged by the plot that I sort of couldn’t talk to anyone that I was, I was staying with a bunch of dudes basically, and I was like ‘no man can talk to me today!’ I’ve just finished this book and I am filled with fury. And I suppose that’s not really nice but it’s kind of amusing to think about, that something could fill you with that much emotion that it’s sort of getting in the way of your life.
AV: A couple of years ago, I can’t remember what was in my head, but I get really latched on to certain things when I’m, when I’m on holidays, when I have a lot of time in my own head. I was at home at my parents’ place and I found my collection of old Goosebumps books – I just sat down and I devoured those, and it was great fun.
EC: That’d be very satisfying though, being like, ‘I read six books today, what did you do?’
AC: So what actually, give me some specific titles – what is on your to-read list?
EC: I am currently reading, and I didn’t want to start it until summer but I did – The Witch Elm by Tana French, which is my dream crime novel to read over summer, still smart but not too smart. What else have I got – I really actually want to read more kids books over summer, I think, because I feel like that’s something that I don’t do very often but I would like to do. So I want to read Wondersmith by Jessica Townsend, I think, and the last book was Nevermoor which was like, huge, and everyone was like, ‘it’s the Australian Harry Potter!’ which I don’t know if it is, but I’m really looking forward to that. I think I just like to go out of my normal reading practices over summer, because it feels like a weird vacuum that you can do anything you want in.
AC: I’m the same, I’ve got some sci-fi on my list…
EC: Oh, nice.
AC:… which is The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin, if anyone’s read that. It’s come highly recommended and it won the Hugo Award, which is like the huge sci-fi award. I mean I don’t usually go in for sci-fi, but it seems really interesting. I read an interview with the author, she’s a woman which, like, I don’t know, for me, my kind of idea of what sci-fi is is like, kind of – sorry George RR Martin – but like, crusty old white dudes, and she is like a very cool young African-American woman, so yeah, I’m looking forward to that one. I think I’m gonna reread Monkey Grip as well.
EC: Mmm, that’s a very good summer book as well.
AC: Yeah just, and to read at the pool as well, because there’s so much Fitzroy pool chat in it.
EC: You kind of have to read it at the pool. You enter in a contract when you open that book that you will read it in part at the pool.
AC: And you have to get a suntan…
EC: You do.
AC:… and then fly along on your bicycle down Carlton Gardens.
EC: Walk past Readings Carlton.
AC: Exactly, go to Jimmy Watson’s…
MD: I’ve actually been reading a lot more sci-fi in the last few months, I’ve always been very much like a fantasy person, and I’ve been reading a lot more space adventure type ones recently, which has been great. And I think part of it is I’ve been listening to Galactic Suburbia, and they made a lot of female sci-fi authors, and I feel like I’m enjoying that more? Like, it’s like, ‘it’s people on the spaceship, but it’s about their emotions while they’re on the spaceship, and they’re well drawn female characters,’ which yeah, can sometimes be something sci-fi does less well. So I’ve started reading the Becky Chambers Wayfarers series, and I read the first one, which is A Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and that was fantastic. If you watch Firefly at all, think that, but an interspecies crew that’s doing like wormhole tunnelling, or whatever. But yeah, fantastic characters, really well done, and there’s two more books in the series and they both arrived on the holds list yesterday so anyway, I’ll be getting to those. And one of the ones that I wanted to read this year but haven’t gotten to yet, the Laura Elizabeth Woollett, Beautiful Revolutionary…
EC: It’s so good.
AC: Same, I really want to read that too. And especially ‘cause it’s just been the Jonestown Massacre, like, 40th anniversary or something. So I’ve seen loads on the news about it. But yeah, I’m keen for that one too. I feel it will be a really nice sitting on the balcony when it’s done and reading till I’m finished sort of book, so.
AV: I also have some sci-fi on my list actually! It’s kind of something that I bought to take with me on the plane over to America that I didn’t get to. It’s a Melbourne writer named Corey J. White, and he’s got a trilogy of books called The Voidwitch Saga, I believe it’s called, and the first book’s [sic] called Void Black Shadow and there’s another two in the series as well. And um, it’s like you say, it’s kind of a space opera, it’s kind of a bounty hunter sort of situation, and it’s yeah, it’s just a good kind of, it’s it’s hard sci-fi but it’s like kind of a rollicking sort of adventure. And it’s, yeah, I’m also reading, I’ve been been sort of reading for a while, but I kind of intend to finish over the summer, Less by Andrew Sean Greer. Yeah, it’s just such a such a fun read that I want to sort of, yeah, sit down and finish it. It’s just, it’s just really enjoyable to read and so I want to give it a bit more time.
EC: It’s a very joyful book, which I think that it’s not… I guess I’ve read a few this year, but you don’t feel like you read as often as you do things that are quite, like, deep and dark.
AV: Yeah. And for a book that, you know, on the face of it is about a, you know, middle-aged washed-up writer wandering, traveling the world, kind of feeling sorry for himself – like that doesn’t necessarily sound like something that you’re gonna want to rush out and read – but it’s just, the characters are drawn so vividly, and there’s such a light, such a light touch to the writing that, yeah, is very, very well deserved Pulitzer.
EC: And I love that it referenced, there’s a little bit in the book where it’s like describing how you actually pronounce Pulitzer, which is amazing.
MD: When you think of summer reads, you do think of a particular type of book, you think of the blockbusters that come out at the end of the year, that generally they are lighter and more plot based – that’s what we think of as a traditional summer read. So if you were recommending in that sense, a traditional summer read to someone, what have you read this year that you think would fill that?
EC: One of the books we did this year for First Book Club was The Unexpected Education of Emily Dean, and I think that would be really good for that purpose. It was just kind of a nice historical Australian-set book, it was just a pleasant story, and it did have that sort of inkling of an interesting period in Australian history that you don’t really learn that much about, because there’s a, they’ve got an Italian POW living on their property, which isn’t something that you hear a lot about but did happen in Australia. So I would recommend that because maybe it’s the kind of book that is a pleasant read, is very enjoyable, doesn’t, isn’t too deep or too heavy, but it does give you that little doorway you could open into something, into an interesting history.
AC: I don’t think I read anything that isn’t at least slightly depressing, so it’s hard for me to give a light recommendation, but I think as a great kind of plot driven book I would recommend Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, I read that last summer at the pool and like you know, read it basically in a day. She is just like masterful with plot. I was just like, what an enjoyable reading experience!
AV: I would, I would actually vote again for again for Less, I think it’s one of those, I think it’s one of those books that, you know, if you are sort of a more, sort of, you know, ‘serious literary reader’, then you’ll get a lot out of it, but also if you are someone who is just after a fun enjoyable read, you’ll also get a lot out of it as well. So I think it’s kind of, yeah, the rare book that’s gonna, yeah, satisfy everyone I think.
MD: I read the most recent Kerry Greenwood one in the last month, and I just think she’s great for that sort of situation. It’s the latest in the Corinna Chapman series, which is the one about the baker who is also a detective, which is just exactly I think what you want out of a summer read. You know that nothing too terrible is going to happen, there is a crime and the crime will probably be solved by the end of it, and the lost dog will be found, and all those sorts of things, and it was just really delightful.
AC: I mean this seems like the perfect segue to talk about Best Summer Stories by Black Inc. As, you know, a great summer read – do we think?
MD: This used to be Best Australian Stories, it’s got a very different cover to what it usually does, it’s got a different name – what did everyone think?
EC: For the cover, just initially, I think there’s so many more people are going to pick this book up, because it, the Best Australian Stories, lots of people bought it, but they bought it because they bought it, whereas I think this book, you just, you’re in a bookshop, you’re looking at the shelves, and it looks really appealing, and it looks like, ‘I want to lie down next to the pool, or on the beach or whatever, and read this book.’
AC: But are people gonna read it outside of summer, you know? I mean you kind of want it to be a year-round collection, I think the stories, you know, will stand up year round. I would slightly worry that the marketing is going to put people off buying it in the depths of winter.
AV: I mean I think it’s interesting the way that, the way that the collection has been marketed, the way that from the Best Australian series to Best Summer Stories because, there is kind of a, there’s kind of a value judgment or an expectation placed upon something being a ‘summer read’, you know, that like we’ve been talking about, there’s an expectation that something that you read on holiday or over summer is going to be sort of pacey, and something that’s going to be, yeah, easy to knock over by the pool kind of thing. And so it’s interesting to, to move away from the previous way they were marketed, which was kind of as a sort of historical document almost, or as taking the pulse of Australian literature in that year, and and the expectation that if you were to, you know, dip into a previous year’s one you would be able to kind of chart the progress of Australian writing – even even though that’s not necessarily the case – I think that’s sort of the expectation that was placed upon it. And so changing from that to Best Summer Stories I think is gonna going to get more people reading it, and I think will possibly, and will possibly, yeah, be very successful for it – but I think it’s interesting that the stories themselves aren’t that different, and so it’s just the wrapping that they’ve put around them. And I wouldn’t necessarily call the stories in this collection like ‘summer stories’ in, in that sense – like some of them are quite dark, and some of them are quite, you know, meditative, and, but there’s also, there’s also there’s a real mix in there.
AC: I mean for me maybe, one part of it that makes it kind of summer reading is the length of the stories – some of them are really short, which I don’t usually love in a short story collection, but actually it’s like great, you know, when you’re on holiday having bite-sized chunks, that you can, you know, just read and then fall asleep and then wake up and go in the pool then read another one, and you know, there is a great selection – so I think probably if you, you know, if you have a particular style you like reading or genre, you can pick out some of the authors that you think you would like.
MD: So I’d be interested to hear how you all read the book, whether you did dip in to particular authors, whether you flipped through or whether you tried to read it sort of cover to cover. Personally I found that when I was dipping in and out I really enjoyed it, but when I was reading several in a row I felt like, because a lot of them did have quite a bit of emotional impact, there wasn’t time to kind of recover between stories the way you do with a novel – like you don’t generally, at least I don’t jump straight into a reasonably heavy novel after reading a reasonably heavy novel, you go away and you watch some TV, or you cook dinner, or you wait for the feeling of the book to fade a little bit, even if it’s just an hour or something before you go straight into the next one. And I felt like some of these stories had that emotional punch, but if you’re going straight on to the next story which, because they were so short you often would, that was kind of disconcerting for me. But that could just be a collection thing more general, rather than a thing about this particular collection.
AC: I read it cover to cover, but I really enjoyed it. I thought that was a great range of the stories, I mean I quite like dark stuff anyway, so that maybe doesn’t bother me too much, but you know, some of those stories are fun and light and amusing, even if they’re not dark they’re strange, so I really liked that kind of spread, and all the kind of speculative fiction that was in it I really enjoyed it as well. One of my favourite stories was Jennifer Mills’ ‘Corrango’, which was the one with all the creepy little kids, yeah, I won’t spoiler it, but there’s… they’re on their summer holidays and there are some creepy kids there. Yeah, so I really enjoyed the kind of, the range and also the range of lengths, you know, there were some that were three pages long, and then some that were, you know, 15, so.
EC: That was the other thing I actually really loved about, um, this Best Summer Stories is I felt like there was a greater diversity of emerging writers and established writers than perhaps we’ve seen in the past for Best Australian Stories.
MD: Did any of you have stories that stuck with you particularly, that you’d like to mention or talk about, other than Alice has Jennifer Mills’?
EC: I’m gonna steal Alan’s before he can talk about it.
My favourite was the last story in the collection which is Marlee Jane Ward’s ‘The Walking Thing’, which is kind of this dystopian like, sort of, I guess like plague infection story…
AV: It’s kind of a zombie story without zombies, sort of thing it’s sort of, yeah, it’s a really interesting, it’s really interesting the way that she’s done it.
EC: Mmm, and I had a different favourite, but Alan suggested I read that, and so it’s his fault that I’ve stolen it from him. But it was just really good, and just, it was so creepy, and the tension built a lot, and the character – when you’re writing a short story you only have a really small amount of time to sort of get those characters really well established, but she managed that so well. Even, there’s a girl who, and I won’t spoil it, but there’s a girl at the end who’s probably in it for two pages, but she kind of stood out the most to me. Just – do you know what I’m talking about?
AV: Yeah, yeah.
EC: Which is remarkable for her to be able to do that as an author.
MD: I agree, I really admire how she manages to – I feel like stories that have that sort of speculative element to them tend to require that there’s world building involved, and world building I think is really hard to do in such a short amount of time. And she really does excel at that, not just there, her other work like Welcome to Orphancorp, there’s a lot of world building that goes into quite a small novella there. So you can really see how that comes through to that, so I’m really impressed by that one.
AV: Okay, well you’ve stolen my favourite one, so I’ll steal your, steal your favourite one, which is also one of my favourites, which is Elizabeth Tan’s ‘Shirt Dresses That Look Like Shirts’ [sic]. It’s kind of a, it’s a, it’s a weird story, it’s kind of a – it’s funny, it’s sort of, kind of otherworldly, it’s sort of set in this kind of dystopian office environment where there’s sort of artificial intelligence going on, and plays with these ideas of personhood, and what level of corporations as people, where agency sits in, as that sort of thing – it’s a really interesting story and it’s, yeah it’s one of those things that it doesn’t, you don’t necessarily know what it’s doing to you at the time that you’re reading it, but then you can’t stop thinking about it as well.
AC: I also loved ‘Butter’ by Lauren Aimee Curtis, which was creepy. It’s, yeah, these teenage girls who have like a strange kind of relationship with this creepy older dude who’s, you know, giving them drugs and alcohol and sort of seeming, seemingly trying to coerce them into things they don’t want to do, but really they hold the balance of power in the story – it’s like a really interesting exploration of being a teenage girl and then the kind of power that you become aware that you can wield, but then also you’re not particularly sure about the limits of it, or, or how, you know, it is well used. And so there’s this kind of feeling of danger and power in the story that I just thought was like a really interesting dynamic. It really reminded me of Me and Mr Booker by Cory Taylor, which is a brilliant novel about a 16-year-old having an affair with a much older man, but you know, having a lot of, kind of, agency and fun within it, but again you know, maybe not 100 per cent knowing what the boundaries or limits of those kind of interactions are. So I just thought it, yeah, ‘Butter,’ the short story, was a really kind of fascinating, atmospheric, haunting story which felt very complete in itself.
MD: I think the one that’s stuck with me the most isn’t one that I necessarily enjoyed reading at the time, but I really thought ‘Magpie’, the Mikaella Clements one was just really, it’s probably the one I’m thinking of when I’m thinking of taking a break between stories – there’s something about it just felt very visceral and kind of, yeah, really uncomfortable when I was reading it. And it’s, I suppose, not to give too much away, but is about someone taking a bit more from a relationship than the other person intends, and it’s – I don’t know, there was just something about it that just repelled me almost, and I mean that in the nicest possible way, as in it was really effective storytelling, and it was really well done.
AC: But yeah, there’s a lot of magical realism and speculative fiction in the collection, which I really like, yeah, they’re strange.
AV: Yeah, which is again, something that you wouldn’t necessarily, if someone was to say, ‘oh, what’s what’s a beach read?’, would you know, magical realism and spec fic may not necessarily be, may not necessarily be the sort of thing that you would immediately jump to.
AC: I think the packaging of this collection, it will entice people who maybe wouldn’t read short story collections to pick it up and you know, that’s a great thing. Short stories are, you know, hard to market, and generally aren’t like bestsellers, so I think making a collection of short stories more accessible to a larger audience is a great thing.
MD: As much as I don’t have anything against the previous packaging of the collections, there is something that looks perhaps a little more intimidating about the previous packaging. Like we do tend to give very plain packaging to classics, or to literary titles sometimes, and I think that really played on it, and that’s great, but it does mean there’s a very specific audience that is going to feel comfortable picking up that book, and I don’t think that’s the case anymore.
AV: I do think, I do, there is part of it that, you know – this is probably just the, you know, the litmag editor in me talking – but there is something that I miss about having a collection that draws from the best stories and you know essays and poems as well published in that year throughout the various kind of magazines, and the sort of outlets that are out there.
MD: The idea of people going back and thinking, oh the, you know, what were the best stories of 2017 or of 2016, I wouldn’t necessarily, I’d definitely maybe be more likely to pick this up over summer, but I’d be much like less likely to pick this up a year from now, or two years from now with the current packaging, which I think is worth considering. Mind you I don’t particularly go back and think, oh I’m gonna pick up the best reads of 2008 or something on a regular basis either, so I think it’s a moot point.
AC: I think it’s dangerous putting a date on something, because it makes it feel like it goes out of date when, you know, a lot of these stories don’t have a timestamp on them, in the way that you know that say non-fiction essay collections do. So I think actually, you know, this is a smart move – because there’s a summer every year, guys!
Meaghan Dew (voiceover): Now you know what we’ll be reading over the break, but what about our members? We asked them what will be on their bedside table the summer, at a recent members party.
Justina Ashman: My name is Justina, I’m the editorial assistant at Kill Your Darlings. This summer I’m looking forward to reading Fiona Wright’s collection of essays, The World Was Whole, as well as the sequel to Nevermoor, Wondersmith by Jessica Townsend.
Man 1: Well, I usually like to read some of the prize winners of the major prizes from the year before, so really looking forward to reading Milkman, which was the Man Booker Prize winner recently. Recently also read Sally Rooney’s Normal People and loved it, and I haven’t yet read her debut novel, so I’m gonna sink my teeth into that one. A whole bunch of other books that are out there that I would love to read, including Jenny Xie’s poetry collection, and… I’ve forgotten the name of the book!
Indiah Money: Hi, my name is Indiah Money, I’m a Wiradjuri woman. This summer I’m gonna be reading Colouring the Rainbow, which is a trans Indigenous perspective on gender through the colonial lens.
Man 2: I think this summer I’m gonna be reading, no, I’ve recently started into like, schlocky sci-fi kind of… stuff like cyberpunk, kind of really, just very un-self aware, un-ironic 70s and 80s dumb cyberpunk, like William Gibson’s Neuromancer, and everything like that. I think, someone told me they were going to give me a particular book for my birthday and I’m such a slow reader that I’ll probably be on that for a while. But I think it’s small, it’s Dogwalker by Arthur Bradford, who wrote Turtleface and Beyond, which is a collection of stories, which is probably the best book I read this year, I think.
Woman: My name is Abigail, over the summer I’m going to be reading Borderlands/La Frontera, by Gloria Anzaldua, and The Swan Book by Alexis Wright.
Man 3: My name is Oliver, and over summer I’m reading My Antonia by Willa Cather.
Meaghan Dew (voiceover): You’ve been listening to the Kill Your Darlings Podcast. I’m Meaghan Dew, and that was a few of our members filling us in on what they’ll be reading during the summer break. Before that you heard KYD staffers Alan Vaarwerk, Ellen Cregan and Alice Cottrell, talking summer reads and Best Summer Stories. We’ll be taking a break now, but we’ll be back in 2019 with more great criticism, reviews, discussion and fiction. Until then, remember to check the website – now’s the perfect time to catch up on anything you missed this year. See you next time!