Catching the Barramundi by Rebecca Burns

by Sherri Miller
Catching the Barramundi is a fresh collection of short story fiction by author Rebecca Burns, recently published by Odyssey Books. Whether journeying to a riverbank in rural Australia with the ever-present danger of crocodiles or walking along an island shore at the other edge of the world in Scotland, while not a travel book, Catching the Barramundi spirits you to far flung places, requiring only that readers find a shady spot on the beach or a comfy place to sit and put one’s feet up to enjoy an extended voyage of what was and what might be.

The stories offer up an inviting variety of venues, male and female narrators, and the intertwining of main characters with feral fauna and lush, living landscapes. However, it is the ever-present sadness of loves lost and lives vanquished by illness or other catastrophes that lingers over each story like a dark, all-obscuring cloud of smoke that permits only a ray or two of sunshine to enter the world of Barramundi. Burns paints a landscape of remote beauty and serenity to the reader, yet as her characters pine for the peace that this privacy affords them, they are simultaneously lonely and linger on in their seclusion long after it no longer serves them as a safe place to hide from self or others.

Nevertheless, the characters who do rise above this cloud of sometimes self-induced isolation and tragic pasts experience a side bit of pleasure with their pain, as the author often leaves the finales of her fiction open-ended, allowing the reader to determine their fate and negotiate yet another journey with newly made friends. Reading Catching the Barramundi is like welcoming an old friend into one’s home, especially for those of us here at Halfway Down the Stairs, who published two of Rebecca Burns’s stories from this collection and other fiction in recent issues. It is hoped that you will also welcome Rebecca Burns’s poignant, award-winning stories into your beach bag for summer reading or in a bookcase alongside your comfy chair, wherever you are.
Sherri Miller is an editor at Halfway Down the Stairs. For staff biographies, click here.

© 2013, Sherri Miller