Posted by: Lisa Hill | March 4, 2012

Sensational Snippets: The Sinkings (2008), by Amanda Curtin

The SinkingsI don’t know how it has happened that this excellent debut novel had passed me by, but I hope to make amends by offering a Sensational Snippet from it while I write my review:

Willa, from sun-drenched Perth, is trying to escape herself in Glasgow.

The chill air was relentless, finding any exposed skin.  You could don thermal socks and thick boots, swathe yourself in scarves over a cashmere-blend overcoat, cover your ears, your skull, with a hat pulled down low and your hands with leather gloves lined with lambswool, but unless you muffled yourself in tartan hijab – and some did – you could not protect your face.

Willa’s face felt anaesthetised, and she dared not lick her lips for fear of a nascent film of ice forming on the surface of the skin.  She plunged an awkward gloved hand into her pocket for a tissue, embarrassed that her nose, like everyone else’s, might be dripping, but could not even feel the features on her face, let alone distinguish whether they need to be dabbed.

At the foot of the road sloping down from Garnet Hill, the early-morning ice in the gutters and at the edges of the bitumen was so thick that careless cyclists skated sideways into the kerb.  Brakes squealed incessantly as cars skidded around the corner.  She crossed carefully, her feet unsteady on the frozen road, and made her way up the concrete arc bridging the intersection of four major thoroughfares.  At the apex of the overpass, she stopped, relieved to have left behind the throng of pedestrians far below.  Before her was a commonplace view of people and traffic and city made fascinating because they were people and traffic and city of another hemisphere, in a climate she had never before experienced.  This is Glasgow, she told herself, seventeen thousand kilometres from the southern summer.  Seventeen thousand kilometres from the sanctuary of home, nervously entrusted for two weeks to deadbolts and luck; from Lucifer, whose plaintive howls she could hear from a four-star boarding cattery.  Seventeen thousand kilometres from Imogen.

She watched people trudging to work, to school, to somewhere, and now she appreciated what trudging meant, that you could not properly trudge unless your body was cocooned in wool and your head was down, your shoulders hunched against the biting winds and the pellets of ice being tossed at you from the sky by some cosmic schoolboy prankster.  This was how she must have looked, dragging herself through the days, the weeks, the months after Imogen left, and she was sad to think that climate too, could do this to people, could effect in appearance, if not in spirit, so close to dying. 

Amanda Curtin, The Sinkings, University of Western Australia Press, 2008, p 114

Author: Amanda Curtin
Title: The Sinkings
Publisher: University of Western Australia Press, 2008
ISBN: 9781921401114
Source: Casey-Cardinia Library

Fishpond: The Sinkings


  1. […] her brilliant debut novel, The Sinkings published by UWA in 2008.  (Read my review here and a Sensational Snippet here). Her second novel, Elemental (2013) establishes Curtin as one of Australia’s best […]


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