Posted by: Lisa Hill | September 7, 2015

FL Smalls (2015), from Finlay Lloyd

These five book covers are the latest instalment of FL Smalls. Each book is only 60 pages long, and they measure only 18 x 11 cm.  I have shamelessly pillaged the press release that came from Finlay Lloyd with the set to share this information about the books:

Finlay Lloyd Smalls is an ongoing project where we give its authors sixty pages to create a book. Published together in groups, the first five Smalls came out in 2013, and now we have commissioned another five to be released in early September this year, shoulder to shoulder, as an offering of vital writing by Australian authors. In a market where each new book jostles for attention, FL Smalls is a lively antidote to celebrity-driven publishing.

Whether producing fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or graphic and illustrated stories, Smalls writers vary from first time authors to the well-known, but they join together to create a varied and unusual collection.

The books are small paperbacks, $10 each, $45 for all five new titles, and $85 for all ten in the series.

The new five titles (L-R) are:

  • FLSmalls 6 by Paul McDermott – Fragments of the Hole: Odds and ends, bibs and bobs, and little bits of nothing. This wonderfully illustrated collection contains a haunting parable about a boy and a goat, and a series of poems that are both fiercely ironic and strangely moving.  See Sue’s review of this one at Whispering Gums.
  • FLSmalls 7 by Carmel Bird – Fair Game: A Tasmanian Memoir. This long essay is an engagingly personal, playful and thoughtful examination of the arrival in 1832 in Tasmania of a shipload of women, sent to redress the imbalance of genders in that colonial settlement.
  • FLSmalls 8 by Phillip Stamatellis – Growing up Café. This long lively essay portrays the ‘biography’ of a café in Goulburn in the 1970s and 80s. We witness the café’s passing parade of motley customers through the eyes of the youngest son of the Greek immigrants who run it.
  • FLSmalls 10 by Cassandra Atherton – Trace. This collection of prose poetry creates a naturally intimate world while, at the same time, fluidly examining complex connections between popular and high culture.
  • FLSmalls 9 by Timothy Morrell – Don’t Leave Home: A travel Guide. This collection of linked essays explores, with a deft ironic touch, our obsession with travel, in the process taking us to some places that perhaps only the author would want to visit.

I’ve listed No 9 and No 10 out of order because I have read No 9, and the author’s travel tales are very droll. I especially liked Morrell’s contention, in the part entitled ‘The Champs-Elysées of Tbilisi’,  that

…our youthful quest to find something, anything, of cultural consequence in our nation’s capital in the 1960s and early seventies was an ideal preparation for travelling to unprepossessing parts of the world , as I do, in the hope of finding something interesting. (p. 13)

He goes on to say that

an important part of the Champs-Elysées formula is the presence of imposing monuments at either end, like, in Melbourne, the Shrine of Remembrance and the Carlton and United Brewery. (p.15)

So he’s even-handed in his mockery, ok Canberra?

I also liked his three-page whinge about hotel showers:

Generally, the more you pay for a hotel room, the more difficult it is to operate the shower. No self-respecting international hotel in the modern age would subject guests to the primitive arrangements I grew up with in our bathroom at home, which had two taps and a shower rose where the water came out.  Nowadays a hotel shower looks like the elaborate collection of pipes and nozzles used in an embalming room. (p. 28)

I mean, this is so true.  On my recent trip overseas it was a clear case of by the time I figured out how to get water to come out of the shower rather than the bath tap, it was time to move on to the next hotel.  Yes, I know, #FirstWorldProblem.  But still…

Anyway, I like his style.  The section on travelling to the US is very funny indeed, if you have a warped sense of humour like mine.

I’ve also read No 7, Fair Game by Carmel Bird.  This is a curious winding narrative, flitting from topic to topic as the author meanders through her books and research documents to write her essay about the women non-convicts brought to Tasmania to redress the gender imbalance there.  Indeed she admits to having wandered, roving perhaps with the wind, off course from my contemplation of the butterfly women of 1832 (p. 25) but it doesn’t matter.  What we are reading here is the way the mind of an author works, like a dilettante, playing with ideas, getting distracted, assessing the credibility of sources, commenting on oddities, going off on tangents, until finally the essay resolves itself, in all its grim horror.

The original five FLSmalls, all various forms of fiction, are: Anxiety Soup, a collection of poetry by Tara Mokhtari; The Dark Days of Matty Lang, a long story by Wayne Struwick; Nothing Ventured, a blackly comic graphic story by Natalia Zajaz; Bruno Kramzer, a long story by A.S. Patric (which I’ve read); and NY, a graphic story by Mandy Ord.
Anxiety SoupThe Dark Days of Matty LangNothing VenturedBruno KramzerNY

BTW in my idle moments I’ve been chatting about the general awfulness of modern book cover design – but these FL Smalls prove my point about how small publishers put the bigger publishers to shame.  Each one of these little books has its own gorgeous cover design by Mountains Brown Press.  They are works of art in their own right.


See this list of stockists at the Finlay Lloyd website.


  1. […] They are priced at $10 each. Reviews will start appearing here, soon. Meanwhile, you can check out Lisa at ANZLitLovers’ discussion of […]


  2. […] of short stories called Automatic Teller (1996) and also Fair Game (2015) published in the FL Smalls Collection.  Child of the Twilight (2010) is her ninth and most recent […]


  3. […] called Automatic Teller (1996) and two more reviewed here on this blog: Child of the Twilight and Fair Game, a short piece in the FL Smalls Collection.  She has published more than 30 works, including […]


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