Pain and suffering. How often have we heard these words in today’s world and all throughout history? They never go away.
How they are dealt with varies from century to century, place and person. No matter what the scenario, such fundamental emotions traverse time, individuals and outcome.
They signify an aspect of human frailty and vulnerability and while the stories may be different, the raw emotional core is the same.
“Catching the Barramundi” in its collection of 12 short stories convincingly captures the disconsolate and troubled side of life with hints of perhaps better times to come.
On one end of the spectrum: Emptiness. Betrayal. Destruction. Grief. Loss.
On the other: Reawakening. Anticipation. Closure. Liberation. Hope.
The opening story is aptly placed and sets the tone for those that follow. From a woman’s perspective to a man’s to a child’s, there’s something in here for all adult readers.
Every story poses a question or invites you to contemplate the unfolding theme.
- How do people deal with loneliness and impending loss?
- Withdrawal from life after betrayal.
- Isolation and silence as a weapon against past pain.
- Loss of roots.
- Solidifying your real identity.
- Reverting back to old ways and habits once the change catalyst is gone.
- Abandonment of family and moving on.
- Hiding from the facts – “nobody ever need know”.
- Don’t appreciate what you have until it’s gone.
- Can something good come out of bad?
There is much to commend in “Catching the Barramundi”. Burns’ prose is clean and laconic while adeptly evoking the desired atmosphere and feeling.
The settings are varied, the majority taking place across the UK, with some in Spain, Canada and Australia. What comes across though is that it doesn’t matter where you are on this planet – these sentiments are felt everywhere and can’t be escaped, even when the protagonists try to run away from them.
The characters could be any nationality as this is of no consequence. What matters is that the characters are written in such a way that they feel real and anyone can relate to them in some form or other. They are laid bare for you to observe and react to in your own way.
By definition, a short story is well, short. However, given my personal preference for more nurturing in the story line, a couple could have done with a few more sentences to produce a less abrupt end – to help me develop a little more heightened compassion before reading the last word.
Burns has done well in getting to the heart of emotions, to write stories about pain and suffering that are applicable to the world over. This is not a book to put a smile on your face but rather to gaze off into the distance and reflect.
These are my thoughts and interpretations but every reader gets something different out of a book. I’d encourage you to read it and form your own perceptions and opinions – think you’ll like it.
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts about the stories in this book in the comments below.