One street. Three couples. A world of possibilities.
In 1989 the Newcastle earthquake opens up faultlines in the relationships of three couples who reside in adjoining terraces, changing their lives irreparably. Each of those six people has to discover new ways to negotiate marriage and infidelity, careers and unemployment, friendship and loss. First they need to learn how to survive each day. Then, a decade later — as the city’s major employer, the steelworks, shuts down — they must begin to live as if each night were their last.
Written in spare prose, What Came Between takes ordinary lives and makes them both familiar and extraordinary. Through the accumulation of telling details, Patrick Cullen creates a compelling portrait of what it’s really like to live now — in one street, in one city.
You can read ‘Aftershocks’, the first story from the collection.
‘Patrick Cullen’s What Came Between is brilliant in conception, pitch-perfect in narrative voice, and complex in its vision of how we seek our deepest selves in the crush of the quotidian.’
Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain.
‘Cullen writes with great affection about people and place, and imbues each story with tiny details that invite the reader literally into the characters’ homes and lives. He also possesses a great sense of timing which means revelations from characters and plot twists pack a punch. This is a book well worth savouring over winter evenings.’
Annie Condon (Readings Monthly)
‘What Came Between is suburban drama drawn to an intimate scale. Cullen’s dialogue is sharp and restrained, his subject the ordinary trials of ordinary people – infidelity and unemployment, ill health and new life … It takes a particular talent to make the mundane seem extraordinary, and Cullen has it in spades.’
Cameron Woodhead (The Age)
‘Brilliantly titled, What Came Between is a … poignant, often surprising collection of homespun meditations on ordinary people shaped by less than ordinary events. A nice ending leaves us with hope for people who demand to be cared about.’
‘The stories are told in the stripped down deadpan mode of minimalist realism, of the kind associated with Ernest Hemingway and Raymond Carver.’
(Sydney Morning Herald)
‘Fascinating tales from one of the most original and intriguing short-story writers in Australia.’
‘Patrick Cullen stood out as a fascinating short story writer and he continues to dazzle us with his storytelling.’
‘The air around the characters left space for me the reader to inhabit their world, to sit with them for awhile and breathe. Learning more about them as the book progressed made feelings reverberate. The mood of these stories, if not the plotlines, stayed with me for several days … This one’s worth the time and price tag.’
‘Luminous and compelling, Patrick Cullen’s storytelling lures us into his brilliantly realised world.’
‘Patrick Cullen is a masterful storyteller and an exciting new voice in Australian fiction.’
‘There is a constant swing between the significance of what is great and what is small, both phenomena being rendered in a level tone, with a sweet attention to detail.’
‘In order that the reader might appreciate the subtle variations and vicissitudes that make Cullen’s characterisation so impressive, What Came Between is a novel best savoured and read slowly so that its impressive threads might, over time, weave themselves together.’
(The Courier Mail)
‘What Came Between is an affectionate, ambitious, multi-layered and realistic portrait of suburban Australian lives.’
Diane Becker (The Short Review)
It’s no stretch to say that What Came Between really did remind me of early Winton. A lovely book.
Elizabeth Heath (702 ABC Sydney)