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“Men down here aren’t like the men you think of,” he said. “Men down here will probably hurt a bunch of women before they’ll hurt anything else. I don’t figure nobody ever hurt anything without knowing they could hurt it first. That’s the way it is and probably the way it’s always been.”

 

Heading home. Bruny Island to Kettering on the ferry, June 2021.

Rivers by Michael Farris Smith 

A well-put together dystopian novel that resists many of the usual conventions, I enjoyed Rivers far more than is surely healthy. Set in an apocalyptic future where the climate has irrevocably changed, making the southeast part of the North American continent virtually unlivable.

There are echoes of Cormac McCarthy's The Road here. Yet, while suitably bleak, the vibe is not quite as riven with utter hopelessness as that book. Indeed, we get a closer look at some of the grifters and miscreants, and the villains of the piece are more human than the spectres that haunt that book.

In Cohen, we have a suitably complex central character equally haunted by the past and the future. A capable man, I appreciated that the ordinariness that he brings to the piece. Unfortunately, too often, the superhuman hero (or indeed villain) spoils this kind of book. In grounding the story in a character filled with the usual human foibles, the desolate reality of the situation becomes all the grimmer.

Highly recommended.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

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