It'll all be okay, my mother said, and I remember the way her familiar face scrunched, afterwards – reflected back at me, in the fogged bathroom mirror, when she thought I couldn't see.
Before the fire – before the front of flames roars over the hills—the ridge is thick with gums. After the fire, all the birds have gone. There is only ash and melted metal, the blackened husks of cars. And the lost people: on the TV news in borrowed clothes, in temporary accommodation on the outskirts of the city, or remembered in small offerings outside the town hall.
A Constant Hum grapples with the aftermath of bushfire with an eye for the telling detail. Some of these stories cut to the bone; others are empathetic tales of survival, even hope. All are gripping and stunningly written, heralding the arrival of a vital new voice in Australian fiction.
Alice Bishop grew up in Christmas Hills, Victoria. Her writing has been published by Meanjin, Overland, Australian Book Review, Lip Magazine and the Wheeler Centre. Her debut book, a short story collection, is called A Constant Hum.
'Unflinching...The prose is clear-eyed and forensic. There's none of the sensationalism of tabloid journalism, which is not to say that Bishop is dispassionate...The further the reader moves through the pages, the more intense the stories...Confronting and poetic.' Age
'These kaleidoscopic visions of fire, trauma and loss twist into a closely observed chronicle of people and place – of humanity and hope. Dazzling writing, acutely attentive to simple truths.' Jonathan Green
'A Constant Hum is a beautiful book – often understated, but all the more devastating for this. The stories are delicate and keenly observed, exploring the difficult territories of grief and loss, homesickness and fear, and an enduring human resilience that always comes at a cost. Bishop is an elegant and lyrical writer, and these are finely wrought and tender stories, always pulsing with empathy and a lingering hope, even in the face of extremity and great pain.' Fiona Wright
'A Constant Hum is a remarkable work of fiction, producing a suite of stories dealing with the fundamental human concerns of love, grief and recovery. Alice Bishop has the capacity to convey such emotions with tenderness, a lightness of touch and true craft. She is a writer of the highest quality.' Tony Birch
'In this resonant collection, Bishop gives both scope and startling immediacy to one of Victoria's darkest days. These are indelible lives, and A Constant Hum is an essential, intimate charting of the farthest reaches of devastation and hope.' Josephine Rowe