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The Returns

*Shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Literary Award 2020*

Elizabeth posts a 'room for rent' notice
in Trevor's bookshop and is caught off-guard when Trevor answers the ad himself. She expected a young student not a middle-aged bookseller whose
marriage has fallen apart. But Trevor is attracted to Elizabeth's house because
of the empty shed in her backyard, the perfect space for him to revive the
artistic career he abandoned years earlier. The face-blind, EH Holden-driving
Elizabeth is a solitary and feisty book editor, and she accepts him, on
probation...


Miles Franklin finalist Philip Salom has a
gift for depicting the inner states of his characters with empathy and insight.
In this poignant yet upbeat novel the past keeps returning in the most
unexpected ways. Elizabeth is at the beck and call of her ageing mother, and
the associated memories of her childhood in a Rajneesh community. Trevor's
Polish father disappeared when Trevor was fifteen, and his mother died not
knowing whether he was dead or alive. The authorities have declared him dead,
but is he?


The
Returns

is a story about the eccentricities, failings and small triumphs that humans
are capable of, a novel that pokes fun at literary and artistic pretensions,
while celebrating the expansiveness of art, kindness and friendship. 

'Philip Salom...dissects the vulnerabilities of the human condition (loneliness, fear of intimacy, powerlessness, guilt), the power of the past to haunt us, the fear of the future to mire us, and the redemptive effects of love and acceptance.' — Miles Franklin Award Judges on Waiting

'A tour de force of sustained affection and wit.' — Australian Book Review on Waiting

RRP $29.99
or 4 payments of $7.50 with Learn more
Booklovers earn $1.45 in rewards when purchasing this title
Available
Dispatches in 5-14 days
Get estimated delivery dates


Please note that in-store and online pricing may differ

PRODUCT DETAILS

  • Title: The Returns
  • Author: Philip Salom
  • Publisher: Transit Lounge
  • ISBN: 9781925760262
  • Length: 234.0 millimetre
  • Width: 153.0 millimetre
  • Format: PaperBack
  • Category: General Fiction
  • Publication Date: 01/08/2019
  • Pages: 336

RATINGS & REVIEW

28/07/2019 12:30:29 PM - Marianne
Thought-provoking, funny and insightful, this is an utterly brilliant read.
The Returns is the fourth novel by award-winning Australian poet and author, Philip Salom. While she has been in the shop before, their first real encounter is a little strange: Elizabeth almost faints outside his shop, but doesn't stick around long enough even for the tea Trevor has made. Their second encounter, when she asks to put up a notice for her room for rent, also has some peculiar aspects. When Trevor goes to her house hoping to rent the room himself (and the backyard shed, ideal for resurrecting his art), some of that becomes clear. “‘Trevor, I'm sorry, I'm so sorry. I have this ridiculous condition that I've spent my whole life apologising for. Prosopagnosia, weird as that sounds.’ ‘Face-blindness...?’ ‘You know it then? Yes, I'm sorry. Oh, there I go again. Most people make horrible expressions when I say it. I'm incapable of remembering and recognising people by their faces.’ .... ‘Most people,’ she adds, ‘think prosopagnosia is some kind of brain rot. Or a twisted spine, like scoliosis, or worse - something to do with the uterus.’ ‘Did you know,’ he says, ‘that magpies have facial recognition? Of humans.’ She sags slightly. ‘Is that meant to make me feel better?’” Some common ground is established early: Elizabeth a freelance book editor; Trevor runs a bookshop (although this is more by default than through any overwhelming love of literature. He worked in his grandparents’ bookshop and it was a natural choice when looking for a business to support his art). Both have failed marriages. Once they settle into sharing the house, they find there are advantages: in the area of company, they can debrief on the day’s events and discuss issues like an attempted burglary, a fencing dispute with a bothersome neighbour, an elderly mother with a hoarding problem, the latest book edit, or bizarre customers; in the culinary field, Trevor’s love of, and skill with, cooking meshes well with the fact Elizabeth really should eat more. Bit by bit, though, the childhood and adolescent backgrounds that form their emotional and psychological baggage are revealed to have some uncanny parallels. Both were raised in virtually single parent families where the other parent displayed a staggering selfishness above all else. Elizabeth’s mother immersed herself in the Rajneeshee movement at the expense of her teenaged daughter’s care and now survives into encroaching dementia to burden that daughter. Trevor’s father, an erratic Polish geologist, disappeared from his life when Trevor was just fifteen, to be declared dead some thirty years later. But is he? Some strange emails and phone calls are casting doubt on this. Salom populates his novel with some quirky characters, but for all their foibles and failures, it’s hard not to wish the best for Trevor and Elizabeth. Their inner monologues can be quite astute: “Every dutiful daughter knows the bind her mother places her in, that society places her in, and how tightly it seizes you by the conscience, that part of the anatomy even more sensitive than the throat. Struggle is pointless. Escape is temporary.” Salom’s protagonists are often blackly comic, in thought and word. Trevor’s chalkboard text, his protest mural, his occasional foot-in-mouth utterances and his private, darkly-worded book reviews all contribute to the understated humour, as does Elizabeth’s dialogue with her mother. Readers familiar with Salom’s work may enjoy other layers and subtle references. His setting, inner-city Melbourne, is well depicted. This is not a novel that will have the reader feverishly turning the pages; it’s more of a slow burn in which several significant events cause the protagonists to analyse their reactions and re-examine memories. The final scene is superbly satisfying. Thought-provoking, funny and insightful, this is an utterly brilliant read. This unbiased review is from a copy provided by Transit Lounge Publishing.
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