Bibliophile | Chris Flynn’s ‘Here Be Leviathans’ brings lessons from the past

Here be Leviathans
by Chris Flynn
University of Queensland Press

Belfast-born Australian author Chris Flynn, who is Editor-in-Residence at Museum Victoria and lives on Phillip Island, is probably best known for his best-selling book Mammoth. Mammoth gave an unusual perspective to life on earth by giving a voice to the remains of the extinct American mastodon that was over 13,000 years old.

Flynn’s remarkable imagination allowed prehistoric creatures to remind us bipeds that museums are full of ‘trophies’ from our long-forgotten past that probably still have many lessons to pass on to the humans of the present world … if only they could talk.

Chris Flynn ventures into territories that have previously been unexplored, and continues to entertain and engage in this collection of short stories. Yet again his humour is mixed with pointed observations by almost exclusively non-human narrators about human motivations over time and the mistreatment and consequential destruction of the much of the natural world.

Flynn points out that it is a misconception that short stories are easy to write and it took him ten years to write the nine stories in Here Be Leviathans – one decade from conception to publication. Prepare to be wowed by each morsel.

Continuing the theme of Mammoth, a sabre-toothed tiger is resurrected to teach us a lesson. A grizzly bear finds he takes on the mind of a two-leg he devoured; a couple of backpackers learn about the lives of non-binary platypuses and a monkey used in trials to test the effect of g-forces shares the experience.

Pushing the boundaries, a hotel room narrates the relationship it has with a couple who conceive in its confines and return year after year and airline seat 22F recalls memories journeys on its last day in service. They are observational stories from the perspective of outsiders.

Mixing sad realisations with hope for a more enlightened future, I can guarantee you won’t be able to look at life quite the same after reading Chris Flynn’s short stories, and certainly after he takes you into the storm drains under Las Vegas to spend time with JKa and Cagney.

Lezly Herbert

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