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Hi, I’m Greg Bastian. This reading is from the beginning of my young adult work in progress. It’s called Faultline. Hope you like it.
Late afternoon deep in postmodern suburbia. A boy is standing at his bedroom window clutching a set of barbells to his chest. Across the rooftops he can see the grey sulphurous haze of the city. He pumps the weights, feels his biceps tighten. He puts the barbells on the floor and slides open the window, takes off his shirt, lets the sun scorch his face and bare limbs. He hates it here. If this is life, then he is living in exile.
Not until his mother calls dinner does he realise he is hungry. Lately he has been forgetting to eat. At school he might have no more than a piece of fruit the whole day and later find his clingwrapped lunch, sometimes several lunches, sweating at the bottom of his backpack.
He arrives at the dining room, its appalling chrome and leather furniture, and takes his place at the table. Stewart is here.
‘Hey, big boy,’ Stewart says. ‘How was your game? Crack any heads?’
Mum comes in from the kitchen and dishes out plates of lamb shank with rice and vegetables.
‘Where’s Casey?’ she says, and the next moment Casey’s face appears at the window. She comes in through the pantry door, scrambles into her seat and immediately starts spearing the meat with her fork.
‘Remember your table manners, Miss.’ Mum reminds her. ‘You’re not at the farm now.’
Casey is Alistair’s younger, irrepressible sister, a collector of pendants and beads and glass ornaments, which she trades with her friends. In her bedroom she has a display cabinet in which she keeps the best of her collection.
They wait while Mum removes her apron and sits down. ‘And that goes for you too, young man,’ she says to Alistair. ‘You might have showered and changed your clothes before dinner.’
‘I was doing my homework,’ Alistair tells them grudgingly.’ I’ve got an assignment.’
‘Well, you’ll have to go straight up and have a shower as soon as you’ve eaten. Stewart can drop you at your father’s at seven. Have you both packed your bags?’
It feels at times to Alistair that rather than being living, breathing children, he and Casey are like trophies being shifted from one display shelf to another.”
ABOUT GREG BASTIAN:
Greg Bastian’s latest YA novel is The Goldseekers (HarperCollins). Set during the NSW goldrush, it has become a favourite with teachers and was shortlisted for the PFP Children’s Literature Peace Prize. Greg has also been awarded literature grants by the Australia Council and the Asialink Foundation. He currently teaches Genre Writing at UWS and his Story Design Workshops are a regular feature of the NSW Writers Centre program. Greg is a popular mentor at the NSWWC and also runs a manuscript assessment and editing service. www.gregbastian.com.au
“I have been involved with Varuna since its inception – assisting with building renovations, running writing workshops, giving talks and completing a writers fellowship.” Greg Bastian
The Goldseekers – Harper Collins 2006
Ride the Tiger – Scholastic Australia 2001
Lies & Alibis – UQP 1992
The Great Secondhand Supper – UQP 1989
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