After the Fire, a Still Small Voice

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After the departure of the woman he loves, Frank struggles to rebuild his life among the sugarcane and sand dunes that surround his oceanside shack. Forty years earlier, Leon is drafted to serve in Vietnam and finds himself suddenly confronting the same experiences that haunt his war-veteran father. As these two stories weave around each other-each narrated in a voice as tender as it is fierce-we learn what binds Frank and Leon together, and what may end up keeping them apart.

Frank last visited his family’s shack, on a Queensland beach, as a gas-huffing teen-ager, battered by his mother’s death and his father’s abusive neglect. He returns an alcoholic man, “the bloody feel of some bastard terrible thing swimming inside him,” having lashed out at his girlfriend until she left. The shack has served as a retreat before: for Frank’s grandfather, reeling from the Korean War, and for his father, who holed up there after serving in Vietnam.

Set in the unforgiving landscape of eastern Australia, Evie Wyld’s accomplished debut tackles the inescapability of the past, the ineffable ties of family, and the wars fought by fathers and sons.

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