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4.27  ·  Rating details ·  94 ratings  ·  25 reviews
A man watches a boy in a playground and pictures him in the grey wooden shed he's turned into a home. A woman's adopted mother dies, reawakening childhood memories and grief. A couple's decision to move to an isolated location may just be their undoing. A young woman forms an unexpected connection at a summer school in Hungary.

Set in southern Tasmania, these interlinked st
Paperback, 275 pages
Published March 31st 2021 by UQP
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Average rating 4.27  · 
Rating details
 ·  94 ratings  ·  25 reviews

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Michael Livingston
Sep 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What a stunning, heartbreaking collection this is. It's brilliantly structured, book-ended by two long stories focussing on Nora, who moves to Kettering (outside Hobart) as her marriage is wobbling. These two pieces are stunning - beautiful and sad and deeply human. In between, the town of Kettering is fleshed out in a series of shorts, picking out characters and capturing small moments of their lives. They're lovely stories, but take on a more powerful resonance as the overlaps and connections ...more
May 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Astonishing. Quite possibly the best linked story collection I've ever read. The only other one that might be in contention is Continent by Jim Crace. ...more
Cass Moriarty
May 11, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Smokehouse (UQP 2021) by Melissa Manning is a wonderful, evocative collection of interconnected short stories that each stand alone, but that together add up to more than the sum of their parts – a novel-like narrative that focuses on individuals but in the end circles back to where it began, with a lovely connective symmetry.
The gorgeous cover image – a jar full of smoke – is a reference to the Smokehouse of the title, an actual smoking house for foods, particularly salmon, in the small town o
Apr 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
SMOKEHOUSE was a collection of stories offering a window into a community—a pocket of life and it’s depths traced across the intimacies and smaller moments that both elate and collapse us. I particularly loved the use of structure, the broken novella that bookends the collection.

The writing has a comfort to it, in the way it folds time like a well-worn knitted blanket while managing to make the conversations and meals and junctions of life feel like tracing a well-worn groove... all the while be
May 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I actually can't fault this book at all. I'm usually ruthless (even books I love get 3 stars) but I can't think of a single reason to take a star off. This is a gorgeously crafted book, it's well written, the characters are real and it's heartbreaking. I read it in two sittings, and I have two little kids so that's a basically impossible task. ...more
Feb 15, 2021 rated it liked it
I enjoyed the clean prose style but was not in the mood for more sad short stories (and a novella).
Gillian Hagenus
Jun 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Was thinking I would give this a four star...but then I read the last story and it absolutely broke me. This book is so achingly beautiful. Each story finds something tender and raw, at once taught and uplifting. The two bookended stories (the titular narrative) are no doubt the strongest, but I would argue that they cannot be experienced the same without all the stories in between. I dare any reader to come out of this emotionally unscathed. I dare any reader to come out of this not aching for ...more
Sally Piper
May 29, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Smokehouse is an insightful collection of interconnected short stories, book-ended by Part 1 & 2 of a novella, that also reads like a novel - the best kind of hybrid. Set on the southern Tasmanian coast with Bruny Island as a backdrop, Smokehouse charts the intersecting lives of a small coastal community over time where the landscape is as beautiful, harsh and unpredictable as the experiences of those who live there. Everything about this collection shows a writer with a deep and imaginative und ...more
Perseus Q
Aug 31, 2021 rated it it was ok
I love Tasmanian gothic as much as the next weirdo, but this wasn’t that. This was sad Tasmanians being sad; and grief-porn. I don’t like grief porn. You know when Australian Story do close-ups of people being sad and play tinkering sad piano music? This was like that but a whole book of it. Many will love this book and I do not begrudge them. It’s just not for me.

Beautifully written, but.
David McDonald
Jul 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
Sometimes it’s nice to read a book just for the sake of reading. A book without serial killers, psychopaths, rape, painful psychological trauma, and existential philosophical enlightenment.

Smokehouse still has its tragedies, yet they are normalised as inevitable life events.

This is a gentle story, exploring notions of how people and place define who we are. Melissa doesn’t rely on scathing character examination to drive her narrative. The story follows different individuals, and families, from
Apr 13, 2021 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

'Outside, the pre-dawn calls of wattlebirds counted out her heartbeats, like the notes of an ancient song.'

This book is a collection of interconnected short stories that focus on a small community in Southern Tasmania, Kettering. The immigrant experience, people's desire to live a country life and the intimacy and strain of family life is captured here.

The first story called 'The Smoke house ' begins with married couple Tom, Nora and their 2 girls Trudie and Lara, leave their establish
Jun 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
I feel like I read an abridged version as there was no story of a man watching a boy in the park or a summer camp in Hungary as mentioned above. Perhaps that was an earlier edition? That would explain why there were a couple of links missing in the stories for me, but otherwise a beautifully written work.
Sharon J
May 07, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: library-book
Smokehouse by Melissa Manning is an amazing read. The structure is unique being centred in a small community in southern Tasmanian area with high mountain areas and water views with the characters forming a patchwork of stories that have overlaps and are interlinked. Such an emotional series of stories that break your heart but also give you hope.
Highly recommended read.
Jun 26, 2021 is currently reading it
“Tom was smiling as though he had the measure of the place. “

“She had never expected to fell so absent, as though her identity had bled out into the fabric of her family. She longed to feel the margins of herself.”
Amy Ursula
Jun 25, 2021 rated it really liked it
Oh how beautiful.
Manning easily transports you to Kettering & you find yourself feeling everything the characters feel. Nora's two part story moved me most.
This book gave me pause to think of my people, what I cherish about them & how they add to my identity.
May 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
Short stories set in Tasmania with themes of loss and change. So much heartache.

Fairly stripped back and bare prose with a comforting sense of place for this Tasmanian. Beautiful cover and illustrations between the stories (which are all linked).
Jun 14, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Beautifully written, transporting you to Tasmania and misty days with crackling fires and smoke. The stories are poignant, with heartbreaking trials for each character but some beautiful and heartwarming moments as well.
Melissa Ferguson
Apr 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I savoured every perfectly placed word in this heart-wrenching story collection. Can't wait to see what Melissa Manning does next. ...more
Mary-Lou Stephens
May 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
The beauty of the writing is palpable. Like poetry - spare and clean, cutting straight to the quick. I inhaled this book and like smoke the scent will stay with me.
Kasey Drayton
May 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
An absolute gem of a book. Beautifully written and I cannot recommend this gorgeous book enough
Ishmael Soledad
Aug 02, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Simply exquisite.
Margaret Fullarton
Jun 01, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Great writing - evocative, compelling and believable. Wonderful.
Wayne Marshall
Jul 08, 2021 rated it it was amazing
One of the most emotional reading experiences I've had for a long time. An excellent collection of stories. Highly recommended. ...more
Rachael Versace
Jun 28, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2021
Incredible. Superb writing. Was painful to put this one down, was desperate to read it in one sitting.
May 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Breathtaking. I loved it.
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Jun 02, 2021
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Apr 13, 2021
Deborah Ritchie
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Sep 16, 2021
Ree Smith
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Sep 09, 2021
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