Tuesday, 9 July 2019

Review: Split by Lee Kofman

A strange confession. I have never dreaded writing a book review nearly as much as I have dreaded writing this one. And do not, for one second, think that it is because I hated the book. On the contrary, I loved it. There was something utterly compelling about every one of the autobiographical essays contained with the book. The difficulty with writing this review means saying a good-bye of sorts to a book that has been a solid companion over several days as I slowly devoured the stories within. And I am not sure how I feel about that.

Written by a number of different Australian authors and edited by Lee Kofman, Split is a collection of personal essays of significant endings and their aftermath. Opening with an essay by Graeme Simsion that talks about how he discarded his past self and the possible label that went with it, many of the essays veer into territory that is both heartbreaking and familiar. Virginia Peters talks about her daughter's charismatic but ultimately selfish first boyfriend, while Gabrielle Lord recounts her brief affair in Paris with a man who jumped to the wrong conclusion. Hayley Katzen talks about leaving South Africa and the heartbreaking events that cause her to return, albeit briefly. And then there is Sami Shah's essay on giving up on Islam and the fallout that resulted from it.

These stories are all have imperfect endings. There is not always the sense of closure that the reader might get from fiction, and this volume works better because of it. These stories offer the reader a sense of reality, a sense that everybody has moments where things don't end neatly, or perfectly, and this might just be enough to offer a sense of community--and comfort--to anyone who is suffering and who needs it.

Highly recommended.

Thank you to Ventura Press for my review copy. 

This book was read as part of the Aussie Author Challenge 2019.