The Short Stories of Laurie Clancy

Peter Pierce


The art and ambiguities of Laurie Clancy’s short stories have received far too little critical attention, especially by comparison with such contemporaries as Frank Moorhouse and Michael Wilding. A fourth, collected volume of them – A Jovial Harbinger of Doom (edited by Richard Freadman) indicates the range of his imaginative and moral concerns and skills of narrative craft that continually he refined during a career that lasted 40 years. The stories traverse Catholic childhood (recollected without resentment), the acrimony of academic life and critical fashions within it, betrayal and adultery, the world elsewhere into which unwary travellers venture. Through all these settings wanders the typical Clancy protagonist, a woebegone and resigned male, battered by life, but never a victim of despair. The angles of view that Clancy deploys are many: he is neither simply a satirist nor a realist, though these are inflections of a tolerant and generous reckoning of the world. His use of many modes of dialogue is one of Clancy’s prime technical skills, as are those concluding shifts that surprise the reader and enhance the meaning of a number of stories. A revaluation of this neglected, gifted figure is Australian fiction is due.


Laurie Clancy, Short stories, Australian Literature

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