Ranging from short, stark vignettes to 20-page narratives, The Last Wilkie’s is a collection of stories that subvert expectations. The tales are by turns whimsical, poignant, banal and brutal, each introducing us to a unique and vividly realised set of characters: from a weary and jaded couple at the point of compromising their ethics in a cut-throat housing market, to corporatised kidnappers with a comprehensive business plan, and a tantruming child who “cannot abide injustice”.
In any one story, Steiner switches expertly from poignancy to tedium, humour to heartbreak. Quotidian events take remarkable and even menacing turns, while profound possibilities are thwarted by the apathy or indifference of protagonists. Littered between the stories, Zoë Sadokierski’s quirky illustrations offer opportunities to pause and reflect on events, and occasionally foreshadow what is to happen. Steiner is at his most engaging in his longer form narratives, with his final story being the stand out. Steeped in pathos and humour, it captures the bizarre experiences of a young field assessor who is out of her depth as she tries to close down a restaurant in a struggling backwater town. In the process, Steiner renders the surreal quite ordinary, and exposes the strangeness at the core of the mundane.
Jon Steiner completed a Graduate Diploma in Writing at UTS, and has been published in the UTS Writers' Anthology. Zoë Sadokierski is a visual communication designer and a Lecturer in the UTS School of Design.