Start reading ‘Wimmera’ by Mark Brandi

Start reading ‘Wimmera’ by Mark Brandi

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9780733638459A quiet Australian town is rattled when local teenager Daisy Wolfe hangs herself from the clothesline in her parent’s backyard. Nobody seems to know why. But it doesn’t take long for the winds of change to sweep through, and soon the Wolfe family leave Wimmera – and Ronnie, a stranger, moves into their old house.

In the summer of 1989, Ben and Fab are best friends who spend their days yabbying, saving pocket money for Nikes, and learning along the way that some things are better left unsaid – such as the fact that Fab’s dad hits him.

But the young adolescent Ben has enough to worry about already: Daisy’s unexplained suicide, the growing pains of puberty, and the beginnings of his sexual awakening. Something about his new neighbour Ronnie sparks his curiosity. He and Fab argue over whether Ronnie is a secret agent. As Ben investigates, curiosity turns into suspicion. All of a sudden Ronnie takes an acute interest in Ben. He shows up on his front door when Ben’s parents aren’t home. He offers Ben a job, mowing the lawn once a fortnight, and nothing could prepare him for what happens next.

How does Ronnie know so much about Ben? And what he does, where he goes, his hidden confused desires? Why does Ronnie keep on bringing up the late Daisy Wolfe?

Against his will Ben spends increasing amounts of time at Ronnie’s house, and as their tense relationship grows heavier with complexity, so too does its impact, twenty years later.

As adults, a dark brooding secret hangs between Fab and Ben, something they don’t want anybody to find out – and yet, the truth is slowly unearthed.

Mark BrandiThe rural, gritty Australiana of Wimmera evokes the treasured storytelling of Tim Winton, but the adolescent angst, confusion, and sense of menace at its heart pay homage to books such as The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton and To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. Touching on small-town solitude, Brandi reminds us how many quiet tragedies happen in ordinary lives, and how their resonance continues many years after. It’s a story of trauma, convalescence, and revenge.

As a debut novel Wimmera makes a powerful statement, stamping not only Brandi’s compelling narrative voice, but his willingness to tackle and explore the vast solitude of the Australian landscape. Similar to Kenneth Cook’s understanding of how larrikin ideas of mateship have the power to destroy and repress, Brandi has extrasensory perception: he discovers beauty and meaning in places where – to the untrained eye – there appears to be none. Brandi’s previous career in the legal world underscores this profoundly eerie (because it reminds us of so many similar cases of predatory behaviour read in newspapers, not fiction) story of hidden darkness in a small country town.

Mark Brandi graduated with a Criminal Justice degree and his career includes roles as a policy advisor and project officer in the Victorian Department of Justice, before he changed direction and decided to devote himself to writing. His work has featured in print and radio, and he has won many awards for his fiction. In 2016 his debut novel Wimmera was awarded the CWA (British Crime Writers’ Association) Debut Dagger Award for an unpublished manuscript. He lives in Melbourne and is currently working on his next book.

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            Synopsis

            In the long, hot summer of 1989, Ben and Fab are best friends.

            Growing up in a small country town, they spend their days playing cricket, yabbying in local dams, wanting a pair of Nike Air Maxes and not talking about how Fab's dad hits him or how the sudden death of Ben's next-door neighbour unsettled him. Almost teenagers, they already know some things are better left unsaid.

            Then a newcomer arrived in the Wimmera. Fab reckoned he was a secret agent and he and Ben staked him out. Up close, the man's shoulders were wide and the veins in his arms stuck out, blue and green. His hands were enormous, red and knotty. He looked strong. Maybe even stronger than Fab's dad. Neither realised the shadow this man would cast over both their lives.

            Twenty years later, Fab is still stuck in town, going nowhere but hoping for somewhere better. Then a body is found in the river, and Fab can't ignore the past any more.About the AuthorMark Brandi has been published, broadcast and shortlisted in journals and competitions both locally and overseas. Originally from Marche, growing up Italian in a rural Victorian town influences much of his work. Mark graduated from a criminal justice degree and his career includes roles as a policy advisor and project officer in the Department of Justice, before changing direction and deciding to write. Mark's writing has appeared in THE GUARDIAN, THE AGE, the BIG ISSUE, and is often broadcast on Radio National. He is the winner of the 2016 UK Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger for his first novel, Wimmera, which he developed during two residential fellowships at Varuna.
            Mark Brandi
            About the author

            Mark Brandi

            Mark Brandi's bestselling novel, Wimmera, won the coveted British Crime Writers' Association Debut Dagger, and was named Best Debut at the 2018 Australian Indie Book Awards. It was also shortlisted for the Australian Book Industry Awards Literary Fiction Book of the Year, and the Matt Richell Award for New Writer of the Year. His second novel, The Rip, was published to critical acclaim by Hachette Australia in March 2019.Mark's shorter work has appeared in The GuardianThe Age, the Big Issue, and in journals both here and overseas. His writing is also sometimes heard on ABC Radio National.Mark graduated with a criminal justice degree and worked extensively in the justice system, before changing direction and deciding to write. Originally from Italy, he grew up in rural Victoria. Mark now lives in Melbourne and is working on his next work of fiction.

            Books by Mark Brandi

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