This brilliant collection mixes the storytelling originality of George Saunders and Lydia Davis with a sensibility all its own, taking the reader on an extraordinary tour of an old and a new Australia.
A woman on a passenger ship in 1958 gets involved with a young, wild Barry Humphries. A man looks back to the 1970s and his time as a member of Australia's least competent scout troop. In 1988, a teenage boy recalls his sexual initiation, out on the tanbark. In 2015, two sisters text in Kmart about how to manage their irascible, isolated mum.
Then, in the near future, a racist demagogue addresses the press the day after his electoral triumph. As the cities heat up and lose their water, a lady from one of the 'better suburbs' makes every effort to get her family into an exclusive gated community.
Outstandingly original, bitingly satirical and written in a remarkable range of voices, A Couple of Things Before the End is a powerful vision of where we are - and where we may be headed.