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Smokehouse

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4.26  ·  Rating details ·  234 ratings  ·  49 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
...more
Paperback, 275 pages
Published March 31st 2021 by UQP
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Average rating 4.26  · 
Rating details
 ·  234 ratings  ·  49 reviews


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Mike
Feb 22, 2022 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: life philosophy
Smokehouse is a compilation of interlinked short stories by debut novelist Australian Melissa Manning. Set in a small Tasmanian community, each tale features a different person and circumstance in life. Building a house, moving their family, a German immigrant, grief for a dead mother, memories of childhood, summer school and watching a boy in a playground reveal how people and places shape us. Despite the various narratives, there is a real consistency in the quality and allure of each characte ...more
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
Bram
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
...more
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
Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)
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
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Tyh
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
Karen
Sep 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Wow, simply wow. I really enjoyed this book which is billed as a collection of interlinked stories set in southern Tasmania. However, bookended by two longer pieces centered around Nora, it is almost a cohesive story brought together masterfully by the final chapter.

I cannot believe this is a debut work. The writing is beautiful and the journeys through various types of loss and grief are superbly rendered. From page one I felt I was a part of the lives of these characters and this community. I
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Louise
This is a fine collection of short stories bookended by a novella which gives the collection its name. I am not sure if it is common to combine stories in this way but in Melissa Manning's debut suite of stories the device works well.

All the stories in Smokehouse are set in modern day Tasmania with several of the characters featuring in more than one story. I particularly admired the two part novella with its tender and heartbreaking love story. Another favourite story highlights the resilience
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Jaclyn
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).
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.
Rebecca Fraser
Jan 18, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Smokehouse is a beautifully written, emotionally-weighted study of love and loss, and landscape. Highly recommended if you love accessible writing, complex characters, realism, and Tasmania's stunning south coast. ...more
Robynyvonne
Mar 31, 2022 rated it liked it
I quite liked this book. The setting, the relationships, the portrayal of dementia and its effect on the partner was in some parts beautifully written. It was a little disjointed for me in that the story didn't flow quite as well as I would have liked. ...more
Janice Hull
Aug 06, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book . Set in Tasmania , a series of short stories that intertwine . Each story tells an interesting tale of how life develops and evolves for various characters that overlap. Very realistic and humanly touching and relevant as we age.
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
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S.C. Karakaltsas
Jan 20, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Smokehouse is a book of linked stories set in southern Tasmania, more particularly, the region around Kettering and Bruny Island.

I visited this region only a few years ago and it’s a stunning landscape of rugged beauty. And Melissa Manning not only paints the landscape but she fully immerses the reader right into it.

“She walked down to the beach, sat in the sand throwing shells into the frothy swash of waves, and considered whether all of this might be a sign that it was a time to move on.”

The b
...more
Caren
Apr 12, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Absolutely beautiful! A worthy winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Fiction 2022, Manning’s interconnected collection of short stories caught life-changing moments for her southern Tasmanian characters. Included among her stunning life portraits was Tasmania itself, the stark beauty of its rural areas, its ruggedness, and its challenges. Characters in the small communities she explored were intensely affected by the relationships they cultivated and the places they inhabited. Man ...more
Sandra
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
...more
Emkoshka
This came to me through many glowing recommendations in the ABC Book Club group on Facebook, and because it's a book of short stories set in Tasmania (two drawcards for me this year), I had to give it a go. Alas, I didn't love it, and was relieved to finish. It felt a little like the Tasmanian version of Olive Kitteridge, with a lot of stories of pain and loss and suffering set in a small community, with characters popping up in each other's stories. It was a little too white, middle-class for m ...more
Alistair
Jan 28, 2022 rated it really liked it
This collection consists of 7 stories bookended by two longer stories, entitled Smokehouse: part one and Smokehouse: part two. These are the real gems. Manning writes with immensely impressive insight and empathy. The two halves of Smokehouse follow the disintegration of a family and its subsequent resurrection. After I’d finished I realised there was quite a deal of heartbreak in many of the stories, but don’t let this put you off. Manning writes with such authenticity and grace that it does no ...more
Jim Rimmer
Feb 14, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: australia, fiction
Smokehouse leapt out at me from the winners list of the recent Victorian Premier's Literary Awards so I quickly wandered down to my nearest independent bookshop and picked-up a copy.

Melissa Manning's powerful collection of interwoven stories is beautifully written, filled with heart, and heart-ache. It's a book that is incredibly immersive - very real, sensory, familiar. Having finished this title earlier today I can already tell it will continue to smoulder in my consciousness for quite a while
...more
Glenys
Apr 18, 2022 rated it really liked it
I do not usually read books of short stories, however this was an exception.
Smokehouse was beautifully written and the story of Nora and Ollie the key to this book.
The other stories, set in the same place, flow together and the characters intermingle.
Smokehouse is an unusual book for those reasons.
Part Two of smokehouse is incredibly sad.

The stories are all about "the life I choose" which is Melissa Manning's dedication to Paul.
...more
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.
Sam
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.
Anna Davidson
Brilliant. A series of short, interconnected stories bookended by two longer stories from which the title of the collection comes. Set in my new hometown of Kettering, this book captures the complexity of the characters living in and around this beautiful part of the world. Each story had me captivated by the richness and depth of people and place.
Allyt_hobart
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).
Emily
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.
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.
...more
Linda
Jun 26, 2021 marked it as to-read
Shelves: did-not-finish
“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.”
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