The family lives in luxury in the richest suburb of Melbourne.
The Second World War is pivotal to the story, which is set in the present day. At the heart of the novel, in the cellar of the family home, is the old bomb shelter, a ghastly structure which speaks of the war, and of the depths to which human nature can descend.
Matriarch Margaret’s equilibrium is disturbed by the arrival of Doria, a distant relative, who is poking around in the family stories.
The question is – what will this woman discover that is not part of the official family narrative?
Can Margaret block her somehow?
Then Margaret herself discovers the shocking family secret which she will do anything to keep from Doria.
A lifetime of apparent goodness can be undone in a split second.
This is a dark novel of manners, a sharp satire – comfortable lives can easily be threatened by the past, and also by the rapid changes in society.
“Dark comedy interwoven with a fierce, incandescent savagery.” Peter Craven
Fair Game is a small book published by FinlayLloyd. It is a Tasmanian memoir, inspired to begin with by a cartoon from 1832. There was a great shortage of women in Hobart at the time, and the ship, the Princess Royal, sailed from England to Hobart with a cargo of non-convict women. The cartoon, which is reproduced on the cover of the book, illustrates this event.
The essay traces my knowledge of the cartoon itself, and delves into my own memories of growing up in Tasmania.
The book is one of what the publisher calls ‘smalls’, and there are four other little volumes being published at the same time as Fair Game.
SHORT STORY COLLECTION 2015
My Hearts Are Your Hearts is a collection of twenty stories written over the past few years, most of them having appeared in a range of journals. At the back of the book there is an essay ‘The Story of the Stories’, which examines the origins of the stories, and also the history of their writing.
"These extraordinary stories do more than take you in – they abduct you." --
The stories pose questions regarding the workings of the human heart.
– Who kills his wife and dumps the body in the pool?
– What are the hares getting up to among the sunflowers?
– Who is paying $6000 for a raincoat?
– What did the bishop say to the schoolgirl?
– How do you feel when you find your death was listed long ago online?
ON WRITING FICTION 2013
Dear Writer Revisited is a complete revision of Dear Writer (1988). This book, on the art of writing fiction for both writers and readers, is one of the most popular and useful manuals around. Its messages are delivered in the form of letters from an experienced writer to an inexperienced writer. The tone is friendly, warm and inviting, giving serious comment on the composition of fiction in a particularly accessible form. The book developed from work I did as a manuscript assessor.
ON WRITING MEMOIR 2007
Writing the Story of Your Life. Like Dear Writer, this manual for memoirists (and for that matter, for story-tellers in general) grew out of my life experience. A friend had been asked by her therapist to write short accounts of her memories of early life. The friend confessed to me that she was unable to recall anything much. So after a while I asked her if she would like me to devise a program of writing in order to encourage memory. I did this, and when she followed my directions, she found the past not only became accessible to her, but that she could report on it in very satisfying ways. These exercises are the foundation of Writing the Story of Your Life.
Child of the Twilight Deftly weaving together themes of art theft, reproductive technology, love, loss, belief – this is a luminous novel that questions and celebrates the miraculous. Who would steal the beloved statue of the Baby Jesus from his shrine in Rome? And why?
The overall narrator is a young woman who was ‘manufactured’ from sperm and egg, the origins of which will forever remain unknown. She calls herself ‘The Navigator’.
“Playful and dangerous.” --
“One of Australia’s finest storytellers and connoisseurs of story.” --
Cape Grimm Here Carmel returns, as she frequently does, to the tragic history and remarkable landscape of her native Tasmania. In a contemporary religious community on the far north west coast of the island, the charismatic leader persuades his followers to incinerate themselves in the little church. He and his wife and child escape to become the subjects of the author’s precise psychological examination.
“Bird offers here the edginess and unexpectedness of a novel of our times.” --
The White Garden Seven people die in deep sleep therapy. A woman dies from a bee-sting in th egrounds of a psychiatric clinic where inmates are encouraged to liv eout their delusions.
The doctor rapes his patients in the Sleeping Beauty Ward.
Carmel Bird's examination of the secrets of the human mind is a chronicle of tragedy that is inadvertently revealed in the search for a lost library book. It is also a compelling portrait of a doctor whose lust for power is a form of madness.
“The narrative includes erotic dreams, and readers who have been impressed by Bird's sensuous vignettes in her short stories will appreciate the skill with which she weaves sensual ( and at times, cruel) interludes into The White Garden. Bird write fiction every bit as spectacular as Angela Carter's but, I think, with infinitely more sympathy for ordinary people relegated to the fringes of psychiatric and spiritual wellbeing. The book is a clever, wise and humane triumph.” --
SHORT STORY COLLECTION
The Essential Bird 2005
This is a collection of forty-four of Carmel’s stories, most of which have been published in journals over several years.
“Deep-dyed rhetoric, gorgeous and perfumed.” --
The Stolen Children – Their Stories 1998
Moved by the Report of the National Government Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from Their Families, Carmel compiled this anthology of the personal stories included in the Report. The book also contains comments and reactions from a number of leading Australian voices.
Chronological List of Publications
2016 Family Skeleton 2015 My Hearts Are Your Hearts; Fair Game 2013 Dear Writer Revisited 2012 Fabulous Finola Fox 2010 Child of the Twilight; Home Truth 2007 Writing the Story of Your Life 2005 The Essential Bird 2004 Cape Grimm 2002 Open For Inspection 2000 The Cassowary’s Quiz; Unholy Writ 1999 The Penguin Century of Australian Stories 1998 Red Shoes; The Stolen Children – Their Stories 1997 Daughters and Fathers 1996 Red Hot Notes; Automatic Teller; Crisis 1995 The White Garden 1994 Not Now Jack – I’m Writing a Novel 1993 The Common Rat 1992 The Mouth 1991 Australian Short Stories 1990 The Bluebird Café 1988 Dear Writer 1987 The Woodpecker Toy Fact 1986 Cherry Ripe 1983 Births, Deaths and Marriages 1976 Dimitra and Other Stories