Each of her character-driven tales tells of hitchhiking adventures—and misadventures—across the Australian continent. Some of the women are looking for work, others are running from their past, and a few aren’t quite sure what they’re doing. But there’s one thing they all have in common … they’re women in transit.
Providing just the right amount of detail is not easy when you’re writing short stories, but Plumb manages to get it spot on. By offering this depth of detail she connects with her readers and lures them further into her web of stories.
The structure of the collection provides a nice break from the straightforward narrative of most novels and, although she doesn’t always make it clear, Plumb’s stories are all interwoven with one another. Sometimes the links are obvious, other times the reader has to really look for them. Towards the end, Plumb ties it all together in an unexpected and well-thought-out manner.
Plumb’s imagery is concise, poignant and faultless. She paints a vivid picture of the life of a female hitchhiker that becomes all too real at times. Some of the women Plumb writes about in her collection include a hopeful mother trying to nurse her terminally ill child; a naïve young girl trying to find her place in the world; a woman who was almost broken by her hitchhiking experiences; and a young girl curious about the comings and goings of a cult community.
In each of her pieces, Plumb manages to get inside the head of her main character and transmit her reader there alongside her. My personal favourite was the title story, The glove box, about the deterioration of a housebound mother with a knack for poetry and a love of hitchhiking.
Plumb’s evocative and perceptive stories capture aspects of Australian culture in a way I haven’t seen in a long time.
Candace Davis is a Queensland writer, teacher, and blogger at candacewrites.com