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Flames 2

by Robbie Arnott

Paperback / softback Publication Date: 30/04/2018

4/5 Rating 2 Reviews
RRP  $29.99 $24.25

Two siblings traverse the southern island to try to find their way back to each other in this tale about grief and love and the bonds of family.

A young man named Levi McAllister decides to build a coffin for his twenty-three-year-old sister, Charlotte who promptly runs for her life. A water rat swims upriver in quest of the cloud god. A fisherman named Karl hunts for tuna in partnership with a seal. And a father takes form from fire.

The answers to these riddles are to be found in this tale of grief and love and the bonds of family, tracing a journey across the southern island that takes us full circle.

Flames sings out with joy and sadness. Utterly original in conception, spellbinding in its descriptions of nature and its celebration of the power of language, it announces the arrival of a thrilling new voice in contemporary fiction.

Contemporary fiction
Paperback / softback
Publication Date:
Text Publishing
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Robbie Arnott

Robbie Arnott was a 2019 Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Novelist and won the Margaret Scott Prize in the 2019 Tasmanian Premier's Literary Prizes.

His widely acclaimed debut, Flames (2018), was shortlisted for a Victorian Premier's Literary Award, a New South Wales Premier's Literary Award, a Queensland Literary Award, the Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction and Not the Booker Prize. He lives in Hobart.

This title is in stock with our Australian supplier and arrives at our Sydney warehouse within 2-3 weeks of your order. An overall delivery estimate to you, (arrival time to A&R + delivery via post to your address) can be found below.

Once received into our warehouse we will despatch it to you with a Shipping Notification which includes online tracking.


An overall delivery time for this item, including the 2-3 week arrival time to A&R, to your address is:

NSW Metro: 16 - 18 working days.
NSW Regional: 17 -20 working days.
VIC & SA Metro: 17 - 19 working days.
VIC & SA Regional: 17 -20 working days.
QLD Metro: 17 - 20 working days.
QLD Regional: 22 - 30 working days.
TAS: 17 - 20 working days.
WA Metro: 19 - 22 working days.
WA Regional: 21 -25 working days.
NT Metro: 21- 25 working days.
NT Regional: 22 - 30 working days.
Please add one week to the above time due to the busy holiday season.

Customer Reviews

Average Rating

5 / 5 (2 Ratings)
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  • Mesmerising and unique

    by on

    Such an unusual concept, best approached with an open mind. The writer knows and loves his landscape and writes beautifully. A promising new Australian talent - this is well worth a read!

  • outstanding debut novel

    by on

    “Black spurs of the mountain range poked high and sharp above them, daggering up into the pale sky. The sheer cliffs that fell away from these peaks revealed great faces of jagged Jurassic rock. Down where the land was less vertical snowgums gnarled their way out of frozen dirt, their trunks a patchwork of grey-brown-green, as if all the colours of the forest had poured themselves into a single species of tree.”

    Flames is the first novel by Australian advertising copywriter and author, Robbie Arnott. About a third of the McAllister women die twice. Levi McAllister’s mother, Edith came back for four days after she was cremated, hung around adorned in ferns and moss, then burst into flames on his father, Jack’s front lawn. Levi’s gotten over that, but his sister Charlotte is still suffering a deep grief. Levi’s somewhat twisted logic leads him to a bizarre solution: he will build her a coffin.

    When Charlotte stumbles upon his plans, she flees: “All she has left of her mother are photos and memories and a family tradition of flames, and she won’t let him take them from her. Charlotte will burn, tomorrow or in half a century, but she will burn. And she might return. Though that isn’t the point.” Charlotte heads south.

    From there, the story progresses through different narrators and from different perspectives with each successive chapter. Each is titled with a significant word and, while the connections between them are sometimes tenuous, sometimes clear and strong, all falls into place by the final chapter. Most of the chapters are in narrative form, but other formats also feature: a series of letters; entries from a diary; and a chapter from a yet-to-be-published book.

    Arnott uses an assortment of characters to tell the tale: a paranoid woodwork enthusiast; a nosy small-town matron with literary aspirations; a private investigator with a thirst for gin; a deity in the form of a water rat; a wombat-farmer slowly descending into madness; a National Park Ranger; a tuna fisherman in close partnership with a seal; a fire entity in human form. For such a short read, the characters have a surprising depth, even those whose names we never learn.

    Arnott’s plot is original, and he keeps the reader intrigued with twists and turns and a dramatic climax. He takes the reader through emotional highs and lows as his characters feel joy and sorrow, grief, love and lust, fear, wonder, and loneliness. There’s plenty of humour, some of it subtle, some truly laugh-out-loud (Mavis and Thurston are major contributors to this, with imaginative names and salutations), and a genuinely satisfying conclusion.

    It will be immediately apparent to anyone even vaguely familiar with Tasmania that Arnott is on intimate terms with his island, and his exquisite descriptive prose definitely does this gem of a place justice. Richard Flanagan says of this novel: “A strange and joyous marvel” and it’s easy to see why: there’s certainly a bit of Flanagan-like magic, but without his usual darkness, in this outstanding debut novel. More please, Mr Arnott!!