Bibliophile | ‘Women I Know’ shares short stories of lived experience

Women I Know
by Katerina Gibson
Scribner

It is always difficult to describe a collection of short stories, as they are often quite diverse. Katerina Gibson’s stories, which have a disturbing edge to them, have received growing recognition and she is the Pacific regional winner of the 2021 Commonwealth Short Story Prize and recipient of the Felix Meyer Scholarship.

Some of the stories in Women I Know are darkly funny – like the woman Instagramming herself to greater environmental awareness before slowly losing her grip on reality in a sea of abandoned plastic. And some are just dark – like the reef conversationalist who gets conned by someone with far more money, power and cunning.

Then there is the woman who is trying to create a wholesome online persona that is nothing like her ‘real’ life. She had thought she would catch up to the self she was putting out to the world but her aim ends up being to leave a pretty digital corpse rather than self-improvement.

Some are shockingly provoking like the woman is responsible for inserting the eyes into companion dolls while men in suits monitor the production and cut employee privileges, such as a video link talk to her family, for any mistakes made. So what does she do when she is confronted with having to insert her own eyes?

Mixing queerness and vegan-ness, Gibson writes about a meandering breakdown of a lesbian relationship as disagreements focus on alternative meat offerings. Then her thoughts drift to friends and relationships, or the lack of both, as she camps on a remote beach.

Stream of consciousness stories delve into life in the fog of social media, empty social rituals and a dog’s world. Sometimes anger takes over as it does for the woman walking home in the early hours of the morning and sometimes exhaustion takes over as it does for the successful working mother trying to schedule time to fix her two kids.

In this provocative collection of stories, Gibson explores the symbols and mythologies women are given to navigate the world as she reflects on the lived experiences of women she knows.

Lezly Herbert


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