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The Night Fisher Elegies
by Dean Mayes
Review

THE NIGHT FISHER ELEGIES

Cover image of the book 'The Night Fisher Elegies' by author Dean Mayes

Taking the reader on a journey through love, faith, death, grief, family and dreams, The Night Fisher Elegies weaves together powerful explorations of humanism, moments of reflection that are tinged with melancholy, and short verses that inhabit the sometimes-brutal landscape of self-examination.

Australian author Dean Mayes wanders through a palace of memories contained within nostalgic love, experimenting with style, tone and character. He poses questions for the reader to ponder and wrestle with and offers pieces that are designed to evoke and provoke, while others are simply present as meditations to inspire and affirm.

Cover image of the book 'The Night Fisher Elegies' by author Dean Mayes

DEAN MAYES

Photograph Of Author Dean Mayes June 2015

When he emerged in 2010, Adelaide based Intensive Care Nurse and author Dean Mayes, had almost given up on the prospect of ever being published. by then in his 30’s with several abortive writing attempts under his belt, Dean believed he had missed his opportunity. But Dean had an idea for one last story he wanted to tell and, rather than allow it to wither and die in his imagination, he decided to blog it instead.

Quite unexpectedly, Dean’s blog took off and after a chance encounter with Canadian based publisher Central Avenue in mid 2009, Dean’s dream like tale about a young man who discovers he has taken on the memories and dreams of a complete stranger, became his first novel.

Dean lives in Adelaide, Australia with his partner and their two children. An Intensive Care Nurse with over 15 years of clinical experience in adult, paediatric and neonatal medicine, he can often be found lying on a hospital gurney at 3 in the morning with a notebook in hand, madly scribbling ideas while on his break.

“When we embark on the writing journey, it is an inevitable truth that we draw upon personal experiences in creating our characters. Our experiences shape us and shape how we see the world around us. From a creative perspective, personal experiences are a gold mine. How deep we are willing to go into our personal experience can mean the difference between a bland, cookie cutter archetype and a compelling character – either protagonist or antagonist. And it is not an easy thing to do. In fact, It is quite a brave thing to enter into and draw upon one’s collective experiences and then commit them to paper”

Cover image of the book 'The Night Fisher Elegies' by author Dean Mayes

FORWARD BY THE AUTHOR

“I have often remarked, amusingly, that, as a Nurse, some of my best writing ideas have come to me at 3am, while I am taking a break, lying on a gurney in an empty cubicle or treatment room. I have always carried a notebook and a worn HB pencil with which to catch or “fish” these ideas from my stream of consciousness. At home, my notebook and pencil sits on my nightstand, ready for a similarly inspired 3am flash of creativity, (much to my wife’s chagrin).
My go-to dictionary, the Miriam-Webster, defines an elegy as, “a pensive or reflective poem that is usually nostalgic or melancholy.” I first heard the word elegy only recently, when I discovered the luminous works of Anton Chekhov — whose “The Duino Elegies” sits at the pinnacle of his canon.
This collection weaves together moments of reflection that are indeed tinged with melancholy. They traverse the sometimes-brutal landscape of self-examination. They journey through a palace of memories contained within nostalgic love. They are an experimentation with style. With tone and character. Some pose questions that remain unanswered. Some are designed to evoke and provoke. Some are simply present.
They represent ten years of a life devoted to words and storytelling. I gift my best catch to you”
Dean Mayes. Adelaide, July 2022

Cover image of the book 'The Night Fisher Elegies' by author Dean Mayes

MEMORABLE LINES

FEAST“He is a forgotten soul, lost in the multitude of windows of the tenement”
.
CLUSTER ONE – “As still as a mill pond. A surface, mirror smooth, reflecting light and darkness such that it was impossible to tell where the star field above met the horizon. It was perfection. A moment captured in repose”
.
SERENNA – “The scene before me resembles a vista from an E.M. Forster novel, a quintessentially English countryside. A meandering brook winds through the meadow catching glittering sunlight from above as it passes through the boughs of weeping willows. To my right, a tall oak tree stands solitary on a rise. I can see a rope swing hanging from one of its boughs”
.
MAN – “The man sits on the edge of the bed. He cups his hands together and rests them in his lap. The lump on his head throbs. His neck is sore. His knee clicks each time he moves it. He gazes through the window, through to the street light beyond. A single tear forms at the edge of his right eye, it swells in size… Then trickles down his cheek”
.
INFINITE“A motel room off a highway. Rain patters the bitumen in front, the roof above. Rain drips from rusted gutters. Distant thunder rolls. Lightning – both forked and sheet – light up the sky thick with swollen clouds. The pungency of petrichor hangs in the air. Portent lingers near – malevolent”
.
THE NOOSE – “Clouds gather and blot out the sun. The gentle breeze becomes a harsh gust that carries the bonfire smoke across the ridge. The stench of tragedy and death. The full horror of what the visitor has surmised reveals itself to her”
.
ARNOLD WEBB – “While Arnold remained a confirmed bachelor, it was said his heart had been broken once. A woman of means and spirit who had turned his head and rendered him love struck. The grand house he had built had been for her and he’d decked it out with all the accoutrements she had asked for. He’d even positioned the master suite so that it overlooked the valley – the best view in the district. But she didn’t stay. No one was quite sure why. Rumour had it that she had lost a baby. That she’d had second thoughts about country life and returned to the city. Suffice it to say, after she’d gone, Arnold closed his heart and never spoke of her again”
.
FLY FISHING WITH HARRISON FORD – “Friendships can form in the most unlikely places — even in places I’ve never been and with people I’ve never met. Even in my dreams. Nourishment has an unlimited potential”
.
THE CORNER “The thing about coming home is though the environment may change, the places I knew so well may have passed on, the houses may be empty, the experience of life and the precious memories are sustained within my Nana. All of those places were touched in some way by her love – be it the butcher shop or the church on the corner or the tiny cottage on North Road. Somewhere in each of them, Nana has had a hand of influence, even if it is just a small influence. I connect with here because she is here”
.
From: REFLECTIONS – “Moments of learning come from places and people you might least expect. The classroom can be anywhere – even the barber shop. Especially the barber shop”
.
From: REFLECTIONS – “Utopia of any sort is impossible. Humanity is far too complex and dichotomous. The pursuit of one Utopian ideal by one group will inevitably hurt and damage another group. Human endeavour, therefore, has to be a balancing act between achieving the greatest good for the greatest number — to quote the classic Utilitarian, Jeremy Bentham — and preventing tyranny. Tyranny always rises out of utopia. Utopia is a contradiction. I think it is Dystopia”
.
From: REFLECTIONS – “I think people have come to rely on social media as a means of avoiding real contact with one another. They stay indoors, don’t pick up the phone, put off opportunities to gather together. Rather, they depend upon the cocoon of the internet — the comment or the like; They make themselves believe that this form of contact is adequate to exist. Social media reduces life to an abstraction — one that can be employed as a tool to advance an idea, or a weapon to repudiate another. Social media has a dehumanising effect. It chips away at empathy, rendering us indifferent to the potential for harm and the suffering that is inflicted. The arena becomes a battleground, a cage, an abattoir where psychological war can be waged, and metaphysical murder committed with impunity”
.
From: REFLECTIONS – “I am nothing without my children”

Cover image of the book 'The Night Fisher Elegies' by author Dean Mayes

REVIEW

“Stories, Verse and Reflection”

Written between 2013 and 2022 this book is neatly compiled into three sections, beginning with a series of short stories, the journey then continues on in verse, and fittingly ends with reflections.

It is almost impossible, and would be a complete travesty of justice, for me to review this book as a dispassionate collection of writing, as it is so intensely personal to the author, that any thoughts I might have about its content or the style in which it is written, would and indeed should, be rendered worthless to anyone but myself. It would be akin to rating someone’s private thoughts and feelings. However, I have no hesitation in awarding this collection 5*, because not only do you experience an intimate and interesting glimpse into Dean’s personal life and family connections, with all their ups and downs, but it becomes obvious in an instant, what an excellent multi-disciplined writer he is across the genres, which is all too ably demonstrated in the four diverse, multi-genre novels, he has published to critical acclaim, to date.

The ‘Verse’ and ‘Reflection’ sections in particular, are where Dean reflects on and self-examines, particular aspects, influences, and events pertaining to specific periods of happiness, sadness, trauma, nostalgia, memories and love, which have shaped his life and made him the person he is today. I have shared a scant few memorable lines from these words, as they really do need to be read and digested in context, as part of the whole. They are not really open to interpretation by the outside world, they are just there, laid down in print as a personal tribute, in Dean’s own inimitable style with words.

‘Virtually knowing’ Dean, as I have for several years now, whilst I can also obviously attribute some of the ‘Short Stories’ to specific events from his own life, they contrive to work together cohesively, to cover a broad spectrum of genres and virtually the full gamut of emotions and feelings. The stories are all open to individual interpretation and not all have happy, feel-good endings. In fact, I did wonder at one point, if I was reading more into the storylines than I perhaps should have been, as for every ending which did hold out a glimmer of hope for the future, I managed to form an alternative conclusion, which took on much darker and more sinister tones, but perhaps that is just my overly pessimistic view of life, to which only I seem able to relate! Anyway, I have shared just one selection of my many memorable lines, from each of the stories, which I hope you will enjoy and will provoke as much thought, as they did for me.

There are themes which recur throughout and cross the divide of all three mediums, and I found it absorbing to see just how differently a similar scenario can play out and be interpreted, depending on the style in which the writing is couched and how it is visually presented. The lost; the lonely; the anonymous invisibility of old age; the tricks medication can play on our minds; childhood dreams; the love of family… each story tugs on a different heart string.

There are many layers to these intriguing, atmospheric, wonderfully textured and totally immersive sets of essays and verse. The writing is as deeply insightful, achingly evocative and beautifully poignant as I would have expected, coming from Dean’s pen.

Whether it be Dean himself, or one of his ‘guest characters’, each of them is well enough developed to identify with, despite the brevity of their experiences and whilst not all are compelling and indeed, many are quite complex and emotionally fragile, they are all genuine and believable in the roles they have been asked to play and have been given a clear voice with which to tell their stories.

What always makes reading such a wonderful experience for me, is that with each and every new book, I am taken on a unique and individual journey, by authors who fire my imagination, stir my emotions and stimulate my senses. This was definitely one of those “one of a kind” experiences, which had the power to evoke so many feelings, that I’m sure I won’t have felt the same way about it as the last reader, nor the next. I can only recommend that you read The Night Fisher Elegies for yourself and see where your journey leads you!

Sometimes reading something different from my usual selection of genres really is like a breath of fresh air.

Thank you for yet another amazing journey, Dean. I’m still holding out hopes for another novel from you, further down the line!

Photograph Of Author Dean Mayes June 2015

A complimentary PDF copy of this book, for review purposes, was kindly made available by the author.

Any thoughts or comments are my own personal opinion and I am in no way being monetarily compensated for this, or any other article which promotes this book or its author.

I personally do not agree with ‘rating’ a book, as the overall experience is all a matter of personal taste, which varies from reader to reader. However some review sites do demand a rating value, so when this review is posted to such a site, it will attract a well deserved 5 out of 5 stars!

 

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Written by
Yvonne

I can’t remember a time, even as a child, when I haven’t been passionate about books and reading.
I began blogging, when I realised just how many other people out there shared my passion for the written word and I have been continually amazed at the wealth of books that are available and the amount of great new friends I have made, from literally 'The Four Corners Of The World'.

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