peteg's blog - noise - books - 2011 01 08 PaulMitchell DodgingTheBull

Paul Mitchell: Dodging the Bull

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Yeah, Mitchell-from-Melbourne has great technique. His stories tend to be a bit too cleverly transgressive, and so lose their bite; for example, that one of the stories is about some born-again gays is revealed after a couple of pages, masterfully, but the rest of that piece is rife with cliché, or at least normativity, as it must be given that he doesn't have the space to pull these tricks twice. Thematically he recurringly treats the domestic violence due to returned fathers and its accompanying stereotypical quietism, as well as the fragility of men. His small-town stories suffered similarly from tired underbellies lending ambience but not presence. Often I was left dangling, feeling I'd missed the point; cryptic crossworders might not blink at inferring paedophilia from mentions of a descriptionless young lass and a damaged older gent rubbing his groin in front of some sparrows, I don't know.

McPhee definitely plucked the story most interesting to me, and as it is one of his more recent efforts, we can hope for more good stuff from him in the future.