The stories in Inexperience and Other Stories range from a manic monologue of a protagonist obsessed with frugality to the tale of a struggling shopkeeper and his therapist. In the title short, ‘Inexperience’, a young man and his girlfriend, Carol, embark on an overseas adventure. The pair are eager to escape the “shabby modernity” of Sydney and their restive lives for the resplendent beauty and old-world ambiance of Europe. Almost immediately, the couple are faced with a series of suffocating and underwhelming encounters in their attempts to have an “authentic” European experience. Carole devises a “ridiculous or sublime” framework to ostensibly guide the couple’s shared discovery of Paris, during which time they are forced to finally confront their own discontentment. The inevitable disintegration of the narrator’s relationship with Carol provides a relatable backdrop for Macris’ reflections on the fragile nature of our connections with others. In one scene, in Madrid, Macris neatly captures the evolution of a relationship from unwavering passion to stark disillusionment. Here our narrator attempts to take in his long-romanticised painting The Burial of the Count of Orgaz, only to be thwarted by the extreme heat and the cacophony of tourists clamouring within the claustrophobic viewing space. This is a collection of short stories that deftly examine the notion of fragility.
Inexperience and Other Stories is the latest book by Associate Professor of Creative Writing Anthony Macris. Included among his previous titles are Capital, Volume One, which won him a listing as the Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Australian Novelist in 1998, and When Horse Became Saw, which was shortlisted for the 2012 Prime Minister’s Literary Awards.