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the rip by Mark Brandi

It’s funny how quick it happens and without you really noticing. Anton said once that it’s like walking out into the sea, and you think everything’s fine and the water’s warm, but when you turn back you’re suddenly miles from shore. I’ve never been much of a swimmer, but I get what he means. Like, being caught in a current or something. A rip.’

Author Mark Brandi made a stunning debut with Wimmera and The Rip proves that this guy is a real talent when it comes to character-driven Australian tales. Both Wimmera and The Rip drill down to specific stories from a singular point of view, but The Rip takes a slightly different tactic. BY paring back the dialogue and plot the true impact, homelessness and drug addiction are laid bare.

As I read I felt that conversations were sparse, bits are missing, you don’t know the narrator’s name until the end of the book. Details are sketchy, and the ends did seem to be all tied up pretty quickly at the end. But, that’s the beauty of The Rip and the skill as a writer Brandi has. The Rip is a moment in time told through the lens of a young homeless drug addicted girl. Of course, details, times and places are missing or blurry, there are gaps because that’s how she lives or rather survives day to day.

Portishead is the perfect playlist when reading The Rip

Anton brings darkness and conveys an instant feeling of ‘unsafe’ from the moment he appears on the page. He was hard to get a handle on, and that’s the point. Our narrator goes from feeling relatively safe on the streets to unsafe and uncertain, knowing that something is very wrong, yet not knowing exactly what the threat is.

This book won’t leave you feeling uplifted, but it will leave you thinking. This isn’t a political piece about Australian homelessness. It’s simply a very focussed story of a young homeless girl in Melbourne and her friend and protector Anton.

Another stunning book from Mark Brandi. I am officially a fan.

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