'In 2017, Australia said ‘Yes’ to same-sex marriage – a momentous event that confirmed the nation’s appetite for change and equality.
'Griffith Review 62: All Being Equal marks that event with a selection of stories that predate, anticipate and celebrate that historic moment: stories of love and despair; stories of families, protest and war.
'Edited by Ashley Hay, it features the winners of the sixth novella project, and maps the richness and complexity of Australia past and present.' (Introduction)
'One of the nice things about having a baby was how the old Italian lady next door changed.' (Introduction)
'Meg's brothers were lucky. They joined the army when they turned eighteen: first Liam, then Stuart. When reveille sounded, they sat up in their bunks and pulled on their boots. They washed their faces with a towel dipped in cold water, raised their arms and rolled on deodorant, then drained cups of sugary coffee in the mess hall. They weren’t required to consider existential questions; they simply had to do their jobs.' (Introduction)
'We only have one rule for road trips: neither of us gets more time playing their music than the other.' (Introduction)
'The shriek of the troop train woke Eddie as they pulled abruptly to a stop.
'‘Where are we?’ he said, wiping his mouth and feeling for his rifle, as though it were another limb. His yammering heart calmed as he found it, the grain of the Enfield smooth under his fingers. They had their rifles to hand at all times now, went to sleep with them, as they might have with their teddies as small boys, though the rifles made poorer bedfellows.' (Introduction)
'Billy looked around the carriage and surprised himself with the realisation that despite feeling nothing, he was actually floating. He couldn’t articulate, even to himself, why he was in Shanghai, so he tried not to think about it. It was pointless to catch the maglev train from the airport, and Qiang, in one of his many brief emails, had called Billy ‘decadent’ for even considering it. This was quickly followed up with a text message: My silly boy. Billy hadn’t replied, unsure what he should do with those sweetly possessive words, so characteristic of Qiang and so confusing given everything that had passed between them. He sat back and looked out across the station hall; a bleak grey light filtered through the glass roof and onto the platform. A European couple boarded the train and sat across from him, nodding hello and looking around the carriage with excitement. Billy closed his eyes and started to bite at the skin on his left thumb. My silly boy. In the past he’d liked it when Qiang spoke to him in that way but that was, what, four years ago now? A blurred haze obscured everything that had happened since then, and now, somehow, he found himself on foreign soil for the first time.' (Introduction)
'The differences between Ingrid Murphy and Katie Brute-Jones were easily measured: five inches, thirty-three pounds and 7,700 miles. Where Ingrid was too tall, too thin and standing on the other side of an open doorway from Stella Parker at this very moment, Katie was the perfect height, the perfect size and tragically on the other side of the world.' (Introduction)
'To think too long about someone’s suicide feels like trespass. To imagine the moment’s tableau with any kind of colour (caps returned to their bottles, tightened) or to dwell on the arrangements made ($30,000 a year left for the Jack Russell) feels like taking a torchlight to the final darkness, the last silence of the mind. Kate killed herself when I was thirteen. Now, thirteen years later, I find I am beginning to question the details. I can’t help but unpick her resolve. Was a life without her guru too unbearable? Did he advise her to do it? I almost have to coax these questions out of hiding. Asking them feels defiant, rebellious – they ring like insults. My natural state is an old loyalty. Respect as reflex.' (Introduction)
'I want to tell you about a difficult place that I visit regularly since moving to my suburb in the inner fringes of a large Australian city. The place is a gym, and I like it in the winter because there is a steam room there, a good place to zone out and think about the day. In the summer, the place is best known for its appended outdoor pool, and this pool is the source of both its interest and its difficulty.' (Introduction)
'I never saw a key to the front door of my childhood home, though I’m sure my father had one somewhere. Keys were never important in my family. But I loved that front door with its leadlight panels – waves of coloured glass reflecting the light. It sat behind a porch at the end of a short hopscotch path. The small front yard belied the scale of the sprawling, many-roomed house built into the side of a very steep hill. The backyard was my own wild fairyland, with a magnificent view out over the city of Brisbane.' (Introduction)