Monday, June 13, 2016

The Salted Air

The Salted Air
Thom Conroy
1 June 2016
RRP $38.00 

Although grief salts the air of Thom Conroy’s new novel, it is ultimately a novel about self-discovery and love.

Having brought to life in his first novel the remarkable story of the German naturalist, Dr Ernst Dieffenbach, and the controversial 1839 expedition to New Zealand to buy land from Māori, Thom Conroy now turns to contemporary fiction. In this edgy, absorbing, innovative and thoughtful work, he explores the need to place oneself within the world, especially when the relationships and places that once acted as anchors are gone.

In his new novel, Conroy tells the story of Djuna, who, while grieving for the sudden loss of her partner, Harvey, is drawn to his married brother. It’s an attraction based on shared grief, on familiarity to a dead partner, and is an affair that is impossible and wrong yet addictive. In the ‘extravagance of grief’ it seems entirely logical. Is new love a possibility or will the result be still more harm?

The novel has a sense of urgency and a compelling will-she/won’t-she element as Djuna flirts with danger, with her dead partner’s brother, or simply just running off the rails.

Thom Conroy is a Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at Massey University. He is the author of a historical novel, The Naturalist, and his short fiction has appeared in various journals in the US and New Zealand, including Landfall, Sport, New England Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Kenyon Review. His fiction has been recognised by Best American Short Stories 2012 and won various other awards, including the Sunday Star-Times Short Fiction Competition and the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Fiction.



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