An Unforgettable Coming-of-Age Story: Read an Extract from We Were Not Men by Campbell Mattinson

An Unforgettable Coming-of-Age Story: Read an Extract from We Were Not Men by Campbell Mattinson

Every time I look at our picture of Mum I feel as though the sun has been brought in from outside. Eden and I have looked at it so many times since she died that we know the number of stripes on her swimsuit and that the nail on her little finger is longer.

We know that our Grandpa Jack took the picture because we can see him reflected in the amber eye-bits of her goggles. She has them pulled down around her neck like a band of black and gold. Grandpa must have taken the picture at a swim carnival, unless it’s from school, because she’s holding a ribbon up near her face, a gold ribbon.

There’s only one place in Bobbie’s loungeroom with a clear view of this picture, the seat up the kitchen-end of the couch. We call it the seat with the view. Eden and I have fought over this seat since we were nine years old. We look at that gold ribbon, back-lit and bright, and wonder where the sun’s coming from, because it looks as though it’s beaming straight out from her. I think that’s why, as we sit and stare, at some point we stop looking and just bask, as if that’s it, Mum was our sun…

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7 June 2021

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    3 June 2021

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        Synopsis

        This is a story about love. Love for nine-year-old twins Jon and Eden Hardacre is simple. Their mum, the creek that they swim in, each other - this is the love that they trust, love as clear and pure as sunlight, as honey, as water. But then there's a terrible accident. And in its wake, they develop a desperation - a yearning - to outgrow tragedy. They grow up, compete with each other, fall in love with the same girl, and begin to realise that their lives - and who they love - demands something more. Something deeper. Richer. Heart-hammeringly original, intense and deeply moving, We Were Not Men is a powerhouse novel about all the various faces that love shows us and how sometimes, distracted by life, ambition or attraction, we take it for granted until it's too late - or almost too late. An unforgettable novel about the difference between getting older and growing up, from an astonishing new and original voice, pulsing with grief, hope and love. It is a revelation.
        Campbell Mattinson
        About the author

        Campbell Mattinson

        Campbell Mattinson started a journalism cadetship in 1987. He's mostly worked as a writer, editor, photographer and wine critic, though he's also had stints as a dishwasher in an Indian restaurant, as a data entry clerk at a stockbroker and as a proofreader of phone books. He won the Best Australian Sports Writing Award in 1996 for a story that is the basis of We Were Not Men. His 2006 biography of winemaker Maurice O'Shea, The Wine Hunter, has won numerous awards, as has his website, The Winefront. He describes We Were Not Men as 'the only story I ever really wanted to write'. 

        Books by Campbell Mattinson

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