Book Review: John Kinsella’s Pushing Back offers evocative stories of people, places and the environment

Pushing Back

Author, John Kinsella, pushes many boundaries in his latest collection of short stories: Pushing Back. The collection is made up of thirty-five astute stories about love and loss, as well as stories about nature, birds and the Australia outback. You’ll learn about Goozi’s, Red Wattle birds and the thoughts of children and men. You’ll also read stories about people overcoming adversity and puberty and stories that cling to the simple way of life.

The stories in Pushing Back are populated a cast of eccentric and compelling characters; and some unlikely friendships. Each of the thirty plus stories are self contained, and touch on, amongst others, themes of alcohol, sadness and the craziness of the Australian way of life.

Kinsella has a talent for drawing you in and making you feel as if you are part of the story. Often I found myself feeling empathy for certain characters, and distaste for others. I also found that often the stories and their characters or plots would creep into my mind and linger throughout the day.

But then, this is a collection full of memorable stories. From, “Barrow” about a girl and her pigs, to “Little Red Car”, a disturbing read about alcohol induced kids picking on travelling nomads. Then there is the title story, “Pushing Back”, which deals with ominous nightly shadows and wild visions. Even at their most ‘eccentric’, these stories display Kinsella’s ability to create stories and plots that remain relatable to readers. They leave you wanting more.

As someone who prefers the longer form, I did not enjoy this as much as I thought I would. However, Pushing Back offers relatability and escapism in equal measure.

Pushing Back


John Kinsella’s Pushing Back is out now, through Transit Lounge. Grab yourself a copy from Booktopia HERE.

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