Tegan Bennett Daylight puts her extraordinary writing skills to full use in a short story collection that powerfully captures the messiness of life and the awkward transition to adulthood.
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What the back cover says:
Tegan Bennett Daylight’s powerful collection captures the dangerous, tilting terrain of becoming adult. Over these ten stories, we find acute portrayals of loss and risk, of sexual longing and wreckage, blunders and betrayals. Threaded through the collection is the experience of troubled, destructive Tasha, whose life unravels in unexpected ways, and who we come to love for her defiance, her wit and her vulnerability.
What I say:
Every so often, a writer comes along who elevates your ideas about the possibilities of language and its extraordinary ability to capture the human experience and convey more than what lies on the page.
Tegan Bennett Daylight is one such writer.
Take this paragraph, from the story ‘Like a virgin.’
‘I was born the 1970s. I was a late child, coming ten years after my older brother, when my parents were just taking their last steps together, just finishing themselves off as a couple.’
Have a look at those final few words
‘… just finishing themselves off as a couple.’
There’s some kind of brilliance in those few words that conveys the bitterness of a marriage break-up, and the active role that two people play in that process. A marriage doesn’t just dissolve – it is finished off by the two people who started it.
Despite the brilliance of the language, I appreciate that for some, Six Bedrooms, will be a challenging read.
Bennett Daylight operates on the principle that less is more. She gives the reader space to fill in gaps and ponder the questions she poses through her narrators.
These are not stories of life’s ‘winners’ – they are tales of complex characters experiencing the full messiness of life, particularly the transition from youth to adulthood.
But Bennett Daylight is nothing if smart. While each story stands on its own, there is a recurring character, Tasha, who appears in a number of them, and grows up before our eyes, providing the narrative arc that some readers demand of their novels.
The final story, ‘Together Alone’ is astonishing. The outwardly tough and inwardly vulnerable Tasha is a grown woman, a mother, who is nursing her own alcoholic mother to her death.
‘I turned my face up to the sun. My mother was dying and life was flowing past us, pushing past us, racing on. It was as though I’d never properly understood the inexorable turn of the earth. My mother moving away from me felt like continents pulling apart, two landmassess separating. It had been happening all my life but only now could I see it. Now, if I looked, the gap between us was becoming too wide to leap.’
I was lucky enough to read this book on a rare weekend away with my husband. With time, space and silence on our hands, I found myself reading sections of Six Bedrooms aloud to him. It’s that kind of book. One that deserves to be shared.
For more information, or to read a free sample of Six Bedrooms, visit Random House
*The digital copy of this book was supplied by publisher on request