Summary and book reviews of After the Fire, a Still Small Voice by Evie Wyld

After the Fire, a Still Small Voice

By Evie Wyld

After the Fire, a Still Small Voice
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     Not Yet Rated
  • Hardcover: Aug 2009,
    304 pages.
    Paperback: Nov 2010,
    304 pages.

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Book Reviewed by:
Judy Krueger

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About this Book

Book Summary

Set in the haunting landscape of eastern Australia, this is a stunningly accomplished debut novel about the inescapable past: the ineffable ties of family, the wars fought by fathers and sons, and what goes unsaid.

After the departure of the woman he loves, Frank drives out to a shack by the ocean that he had last visited as a teenager. There, among the sugarcane and sand dunes, he struggles to rebuild his life.

Forty years earlier, Leon is growing up in Sydney, turning out treacle tarts at his parents' bakery and flirting with one of the local girls. But when he's drafted to serve in Vietnam, he 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.

Excerpt
After the Fire, a Still Small Voice

The sun turned the narrow dirt track to dust. It rose like an orange tide from the wheels of the truck and blew in through the window to settle in Frank Collard’s arm hair. He remembered the place feeling more tropical, the soil thicker and wetter. The sugar cane on either side of the track was thin and reedy, wild with a brown husk and sick-looking green tops. The same old cane that hadn’t been harvested in twenty years swayed like a green sea. Blue gums and box trees hepped out of it, not bothered with the dieback. Once it would all have been hardwood. In the time his grandparents had lived out here, just the two of them, before the new highway, maybe then this place was a shack in the woods.

The clearing was smaller than he remembered, like the cane had slunk closer to the pale wooden box hut. The banana tree stooped low over a corrugated roof. He turned off the engine and sagged in his seat for a moment taking it in. There was...

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About This Book
After the Fire, a Still Small Voice illuminates the ties that bind men together and the wars, both personal and national, that drive them apart. From Canberra to the small beach town of Mulaburry comes Frank Collard, trying to put behind him painful memories–including the recent and turbulent departure of the woman he loves. Fifty years back, Leon Collard lives a quiet life in Sydney with his immigrant parents, who run a local bakery. But when Leon’s father enlists to fight in the Korean War and returns a broken man, the family crumbles. Years later, Leon runs into his generation’s war and, devastatingly, becomes a conscripted soldier in Vietnam.

As these two story lines unfold, we learn how Frank’...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

Evie Wyld’s impressive first novel employs the harsh and often dangerous Australian environment as a setting for the loneliness and devastation that can ruin a man’s life after he returns from war... When I finished the story I was left with scenes of jungles, death, loss and sorrow, but also vivid vignettes of young men discovering their sexuality, forming connections with friends, and finding peace of mind through creativity.   (Reviewed by Judy Krueger).

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Media Reviews
The New Yorker

Wyld has a feel both for beauty and for the ugliness of inherited pain. The mood is creepy—strange creatures in the sugar cane, grieving neighbors, a missing local girl—and the sentiment is plain: 'Sometimes people aren't all right and that's just how it is.'

Vogue

After the Fire, a Still Small Voice has the kind of dark shimmer that mesmerizes as it disturbs . . . [The characters'] converging stories and silent rage form an eerie chiaroscuro of blinding sunlight and tenebrous bush, rendered in language so naturalistic and sensual it seems more felt than read

Booklist

Ravishingly atmospheric and wisely compassionate ...There's no doubt that Wyld is a writer of immense abilities and depth.

Library Journal

With mental tension, war, missing children, and the daily struggles encountered in the Australian bush, there is plenty to keep the reader engrossed. A definite page-turner that will appeal to those seeking a good escapist read.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. At times startling, Wyl's book is ruminative and dramatic, with deep reserves of empathy colored by masculine rage and repression."

The Times (UK)

A superb first novel.

The Daily Mail (UK)

Just sometimes, a book is so complete, so compelling and potent, that you are fearful of breaking its hold. This is one . . . With awesome skill and whiplash wit, Evie Wyld knits together past and present, with tension building all the time. In Peter Carey and Tim Winton, Australia has produced two of the finest storytellers working today. On this evidence, Wyld can match them both.

The Guardian (UK)

A terrifically self-assured debut . . . It's a cauterising, cleansing tale, told with muscular writing.

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Beyond the Book

Australia's role in the Korean and Vietnam Wars
When war broke out in Korea in June 1950, the United Nations Security Council asked all of its members to assist in repelling the North Korean invasion into South Korea. North Korea was under the influence of the Soviet Union and later in the war Communist China entered the fray as well. Fifteen nations sent contingents to defend South Korea, with the United States being the largest.

Australia committed a squadron of Air Force personnel, equipment, and a battalion from the Royal Australian Regiment. The country's security was felt to be at risk from Communist aggression and the Prime Minister was eager to show its full support of the United Nations. More particularly he wanted to secure...

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