In “The Theft That Got Me Here”, a young man who lives with his grandparents, one of whom is suffering from Alzheimer’s, is greeted with a surprise:
…Grandma opens the door and she’s fine. She’s standing on her own, not holding the walls, nothing. She’s been off the map for six years and now she’s looking at me like a professor. Not speedy and scared, like she was on the last treatment, but simply there, her old self. And this isn’t me on drugs. It’s her on drugs.
In “Dry Land”, Australia goes through a rain cycle that doesn’t end. For years. All that dry, dusty outback becomes a series of lakes, and the rain never stops. People are forced to evacuate, and while they try to hold off, leaving becomes inevitable. The narrator observes that “Despite all the feelings we think we’ve got for our loved ones and our attachments, when push comes to shove most people figure out how to travel light.”
The author blurb on the back states that Amsterdam is a psychiatric nurse as well as an author. I’m certain that his experience in health care has made him more aware of the more subtle layers of fear and anger, those that he exposes so well in this collection. It’s not in the big details that he reveals them, but in the little details, the little inflections and asides. An unusual collection that is a fun read from someone we’re going to hear good things about!
(And since he IS in Australia, I’m counting this title in my Australian Author Challenge title count, so there! )
Special thanks to Lauren Helman with Pantheon for this Advanced Reader's Copy.