The Danger Game

Alice and Louise are sisters united by a distant tragedy - the house fire their brother lit and burnt to death in, fourteen years ago. Alice teaches dirt-poor students at a state high school that the government wants to close, and she pursues an episodic, estranged relationship with a married man. Louise, a habitual liar and recovering heroin addict, has been playing ‘the danger game' since she was a child, and she can't stop. But when Louise decides to unravel the truth about her twin brother's death, and seeks out the mother that abandoned her as a ten-year-old, everything changes. With preoccupations reminiscent of Elliot Perlman, The Danger Game is a work of literary realism, told through three voices in a pared-back style laced with black humour. The Danger Game is at once unsentimental account of deprivation and resistance, and a critique of the human cost of untrammelled economic rationalism. This is a novel about damage: the damage we do to each other and the damage the world can do to us. Jon smiled, puzzled. ‘You make it sound like old-fashionedclass war.'I was trembling. He put his hand on my arm. ‘If the kids are clever they'll stillfind a way through. Look at you.' A review from Australian Bookseller and Publisher'While big Australian publishers are busy fighting each other with vampires and gangsters, small presses are quietly putting out some of the most impressive literary fiction of recent years. Melbourne-based Sleepers Publishing have uncovered a writer of exceptional skill and poise, whose debut novel is as outstanding an example of a contemporary realist narrative as you?re likely to find. With echoes of Australian literary heavyweights such as Elliot Perlman or Anson Cameron, Ashton's story deftly explores the psychological damage of unspoken family history. Told through the eyes of three siblings, Alice, Louise and Jeremy Reilly, and moving in two time-frames, this novel tells the story of a family both united and broken by the distant tragedy of Jeremy's death. Alice, the older sister, reconciles her nearly puritan life as a teacher in a dirt-poor school with a doomed relationship with a married man, while Louise struggles to stay afloat as a recovering drug addict. What unites them both is Jeremy?s story, and the 'danger game', a childhood tradition and eerie cadence for the rest of their lives. Like Christos Tsiolkas' The Slap (but without the forced social overlay), Ashton allows us to understand the extraordinary importance of ordinary lives.'

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19cm x 13cm






Sleepers Publishing


01 August 2009


Kalinda Ashton