Fiction  > Contemporary  > Other by A to Z  > S - Z

Tales From Outer Suburbia h/c

Tales From Outer Suburbia h/c Tales From Outer Suburbia h/c Tales From Outer Suburbia h/c

Tales From Outer Suburbia h/c back

Shaun Tan


Page 45 Review by Stephen

Suburbia: the outlying district of a city, provincial in outlook. A mundane, middle-class sprawl of tarmac taming the soil and planted with precise rows of houses where trees once seeded themselves in organic clusters. Washing the car, mowing the lawn, everything neat and tidy and predictable - comprehensible, if you like.

But here nature reasserts itself in all its wondrous vitality as a breath of fresh air in a dark and fetid attic, leading into an impossible Renaissance courtyard below with pastoral scenes reminiscent of Fra Angelico or Fra Filippo Lippi; in the form of a sea-dwelling dugong appearing overnight on the neat little lawn outside a troubled household a full four kilometres from the coast; a buffalo rewarding all acts of faith until unappreciated; a wild pack of dogs taking revenge on the worldly possessions of a man who beat his household pet to death.

From the Australian creator of THE ARRIVAL comes a book equally as magical and stirring and profound, but in a range of radically different styles: comics as collage as a torn scraps of personal history - confessional poetry, unsent love letters and secret yearnings rejected out of embarrassment by their owners - are gathered like so much moss by the rolling stone of a ball as it roams the streets at night or floats above the houses until one day its fragility falls prey to a sudden gust of wind; prose whose punchline is a full-page spread of soft-pencil beauty left behind by an unknowable foreign exchanged student who's actually a tiny little leaf; a newspaper page of current affairs, each of whose side-lined articles makes you wonder if we are all indeed subjected to an Amnesia Machine; or a series of shadow-striped paintings as robust as anything you'll see from Phil Hale following the path of silent stick creatures drifting down the roads. Why are they here? What do they want? Well, why are we here, what do we want? They were here first - before The Bush became 'burbs.

At every instance here, Shaun will give you pause for reflection. Haunting mysteries, the deepest of love, and the possibility of a harmonious tranquillity… as opposed to painting the deadening concrete in front of your house a not-so-verdent green in order to cut out the labour of mowing a lawn.