There’s an underlying hum of tension in Exploded View which sometimes dazzles through into violence, like broken glass glimpsed on a headlong dash. And I did read this novel fast! Carrie Tiffany’s newest novel is set in an almost recognizable 1970’s semi-rural hinterland, narrated by an adolescent girl in precarious circumstances. Her family, designated as Father Man, Mother and Brother, go about their days observed by, and cataloged with, a child’s odd amoral certainties. Very early it is established that the girl’s stepfather is a sinister figure, with offhand mentions of controlling behaviour and abuse. She takes comfort in the pilfered workshop manual to Father Man’s Holden, where the clean mechanical illustrations seem to be the opposite of a human body’s tendency for damage and pain. She also sneaks into his workshop at night and depending on her mood, takes the cars for joyrides or sabotages his slipshod mechanical repairs. There’s a savage thrill in this, and in how she dispassionately recalls the intricacies of parts with a savant’s accuracy. Its not a comfortable story to read, with triggering asides to childhood trauma, but it is unforgettable writing from a uniquely Australian voice and the protagonist will stay with me for a long time.
Text Publishing 2018