Stranded in his Sydney flat, the journalist John Rinner tries to explain his Dad-dud existence to his daughter by telephone. This is not easy since he hasn’t seen her in 18 years and she is on the other side of the world working in an Amsterdam hotel with little time to listen to an excuse for a Dad.
Just as his working life in the field with the UN Childrens Fund now seems only smoke-and-mirrors, so does Rinner’s own life seem as it flashes past him in delusion and illusion, and with more bottoms than tops. This seems especially relevant to his real-or-imagined North Queensland aboriginal roots... almost as much as the witnessing the world’s abuse of its children has scarred him. But, more and more, the cross connections of telephone torment continue, escalating in him into looking down into a sump rather than getting any sort of expiation from reconnecting with his beloved daughter.
At least it is a mirror on the wall there, and not the sad sack that is himself.
At least, too, the mirror gives back to him a more intelligent conversation than he can get from other human beings these end of days.
He is still, though barely, intuitive enough to be able to appreciate being able to tell it: ‘You heard the one about the guy going up to a mirror on the wall and spouting, “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the....?”’
Bill Reed is a novelist, playwright and short-story writer. He has worked as editor and journalist both in Australia and overseas, and has won national competitions for drama and for long and short fiction. He now divides his time between his native Australia and his wife’s Sri Lanka.
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About the Author
Bill Reed is an award-winning Australian novelist, playwright and short-story writer who has won national awards in each of these categories. He has resided in Sri Lanka for the last two decades through his South Asian connections through marriage. On the back cover of his last mainstream novel, Hyland House Publishing enthused that Tusk was another novel from ‘…one of the great originals of Australian literature… and one of our few writers of genius’. But then, in those days, Reed lived within the Australian publishing and literary worlds. Now he dwells contentedly outside the gates.