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y separately published work icon Common People selected work   short story  
Issue Details: First known date: 2017... 2017 Common People
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AbstractHistoryArchive Description

'In this unforgettable new collection, Tony Birch introduces a cast of characters from all walks of life. These remarkable and surprising stories capture common people caught up in the everyday business of living and the struggle to survive. From two single mothers on the most unlikely night shift to a homeless man unexpectedly faced with the miracle of a new life, Birch’s stories are set in gritty urban refuges and battling regional communities. His deftly drawn characters find unexpected signs of hope in a world where beauty can be found on every street corner – a message on a T-shirt, a friend in a stray dog or a star in the night sky. 

'Common People shines a light on human nature and how the ordinary kindness of strangers can have extraordinary results. With characteristic insight and restraint, Tony Birch reinforces his reputation as a master storyteller.'

Source: Publication summary.
 

Notes

  • Dedication: For Isabel Kit

    Isabel, Isabel, didn't worry,

    Isabel didn't scream or scurry

    --Ogden Nash, 'The Adventures of Isabel'

  • Contents:

    • The Ghost Train
    • Harmless
    • Colours
    • Joe Roberts
    • The White Girl
    • Party Lights
    • Paper Moon
    • Painted Glass
    • Frank Slim
    • Liam
    • Raven and Sons
    • The Good Howard
    • Sissy
    • Death Star
    • Worship

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Works about this Work

Labour That Holds Us Together : Common People by Tony Birch R. D. Wood , 2018 single work essay
— Appears in: Sydney Review of Books , May 2018;

'I had read criticism of Tony Birch’s short story collection Common People before I read the book itself. I had heard the author speak on national radio, stumbled across reviews and read literary journal articles. What I quickly gleaned from the commentary was that Birch has ‘compassion’ and his common people are ‘resilient’. I read the book and I could not disagree. Some of the stories in Common People are based on Birch’s own personal experiences, but all of them display a striking intimacy with the lingua franca of grit, scrabble, labour. They are stories about mundane and quotidian lives on the margins of Australian society. Other critics asked: what keeps his characters going in the face of hardship? Sometimes it is alcohol, sometimes it is humour, sometimes it is small acts of kindness. All of these things allow Birch’s downtrodden to find ways to live another day. Often the hardship his characters face is structural and the forces they struggle against are greater than themselves. Power is out there. Yet it manifests in particular ways, and oppressing individuals in ways that are specific to their lives.'  (Introduction)

Connections Fiona Wright , 2017 single work essay review
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , September no. 394 2017; (p. 14-15)

'The characters who populate Tony Birch’s Common People are striking not so much because they are the ordinary people, the commonplace or everyday people that the title would suggest – they are, mostly, people living in or with extremity and trauma – but because the thing that unites them in these stories are discoveries of small moments of common humanity. Some of these are exchanges, or gifts – a packet of cigarettes, a bowl of spaghetti, a kiss – others encounters with beauty or sublimity: a glass mural ceiling in an art gallery, a strain of music, a baby, a star.' (Introduction)

Connections Fiona Wright , 2017 single work essay review
— Appears in: Australian Book Review , September no. 394 2017; (p. 14-15)

'The characters who populate Tony Birch’s Common People are striking not so much because they are the ordinary people, the commonplace or everyday people that the title would suggest – they are, mostly, people living in or with extremity and trauma – but because the thing that unites them in these stories are discoveries of small moments of common humanity. Some of these are exchanges, or gifts – a packet of cigarettes, a bowl of spaghetti, a kiss – others encounters with beauty or sublimity: a glass mural ceiling in an art gallery, a strain of music, a baby, a star.' (Introduction)

Labour That Holds Us Together : Common People by Tony Birch R. D. Wood , 2018 single work essay
— Appears in: Sydney Review of Books , May 2018;

'I had read criticism of Tony Birch’s short story collection Common People before I read the book itself. I had heard the author speak on national radio, stumbled across reviews and read literary journal articles. What I quickly gleaned from the commentary was that Birch has ‘compassion’ and his common people are ‘resilient’. I read the book and I could not disagree. Some of the stories in Common People are based on Birch’s own personal experiences, but all of them display a striking intimacy with the lingua franca of grit, scrabble, labour. They are stories about mundane and quotidian lives on the margins of Australian society. Other critics asked: what keeps his characters going in the face of hardship? Sometimes it is alcohol, sometimes it is humour, sometimes it is small acts of kindness. All of these things allow Birch’s downtrodden to find ways to live another day. Often the hardship his characters face is structural and the forces they struggle against are greater than themselves. Power is out there. Yet it manifests in particular ways, and oppressing individuals in ways that are specific to their lives.'  (Introduction)

Last amended 13 Dec 2018 08:25:30
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