City, by James Roy

The only water out this way was the river and the reservoir and the twin pipes that fed the city. Huge and dark, as thick through as a small car, they rose and fell across the plains towards the glowing sky and the shimmering skyline.


Cities are big, cities are too small, cities are full of people, cities are lonely, cities are full of variety, cities are all the same. James Roy’s City is a title for young adult readers, that explores the bustling tapestry that is a city through twenty-two stories of young city-dwellers. The characters of City don’t always tell stories of triumph, or even stories of failure, these are stories of real people just living their lives and learning as they go.

City is the follow up to James Roy’s acclaimed 2007 book, Town. Like its predecessor it takes place in an unnamed, fictional, location but is grounded in the real world. The characters of City aren’t necessarily connected directly, but they all exist in the same space, they might never meet or acknowledge one another, but they know the same people, the same places, the same items. The format works well in providing a snapshot of a city whilst also providing the personal stories of the characters.

A masterfully crafted exploration of both the city environment and the people who live there.

City by James Roy
University of Queensland Press, 2012
ISBN 9780702249266

Available from good bookstores or online.

Green Monkey Dreams, by Isobelle Carmody

I ride this day upon the Worldroad, alone, except for courage, who rides on the pommel of my saddle fluffing his feathers. I did not dream of journeying thus as a child.

Reading an Isobelle Carmody story is a special experience, an experience which doesn’t end with the last word. The stories in Green Monkey Dreams, first published in 1996, are diverse in subject matter and theme, but each story takes the reader in a tight grip then squeezes, making you stop and consider what is real, and leaving you pondering reality, values, even life itself long after.

In the title story, which is also the last story in the book, for example, a girl dreams of dreaming, in layer upon layer of dream so that it is impossible to tell which, if any, version is reality. In ‘Long Live the Giant’ the protagonist shares her discoveries about the meaning of life and, importantly, death, having been given the chance of immortality.

The stories are each different, set in fantastical worlds and differing time periods, but some motifs do recur, particularly the image of a tower in a graveyard, said to be the burial site of a giant whoes arm pointed skywards in death and so was covered by a tower. Angels and monkeys are also mentioned more than once, and tales and characters from traditional fairy stories are used.

Suitable for young adult and adult readers, this is a collection best enjoyed one story at a time, as each story needs time to be processed and appreciated.

Green Monkey Dreams

Green Monkey Dreams, by Isobelle Carmody
This edition Allen & Unwin, 2012
ISBN 9781742379470

This book is available in good bookstores or online from Fishpond. Buying through this link supports Aussiereviews.