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Writer Catherine Cole uses her full powers of observation to craft these realistic, honest narrative nuggets of humanity.

It’s often the case that a collection of short stories will feature a number of tales that hit the mark, but also ones that miss it by a mile. Catherine Cole’s collection Seabirds Crying in the Harbour Dark is very much lacking the ‘miss’,  with each tale so expertly crafted that the author’s talent for observing the subtle nuances of human life is almost intimidating.

Seabirds Crying in the Harbour Dark takes in a myriad experiences; there’s a father waiting patiently for his daughter to follow him over the sea to safety, the male writer eclipsed by the famous female novelist, a gay man whose best friend decides that he represents her mother too closely for them to continue to be friends… on and on these unusual and ordinary tales go, never waning in their subtlety or beauty.

The issues and topics in this collection may seem simplistic, but things like friendship, love, families, dinner party gossip, the sea and writing are all picked apart by Cole’s gentle language, pulling you in to world after world where you’re given the sensation of being a fly on many walls. Her writing is intimate and knowing, creating a closeness between reader and character that tugs a little at the heart.

For those new to Cole’s writing this book is the perfect introduction. Anyone pressed for time will enjoy devouring it piece by piece, while those who are more at leisure will find satisfaction in the connections and trails that she weaves throughout the book. In any context it will leave you wanting to read more, and more importantly, pondering the answers to some very honest questions.

Seabirds Crying in the Harbour Dark by Catherine Cole is published by UWA Publishing and is available now priced at $24.99.

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