Winner, Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction 2018
Winner, Queensland Literary Award, University of Southern Queensland Short Story –Steele Rudd Award
Shortlisted, NSW Premier's Literary Award, Christina Stead Prize for Fiction 2018
The characters in Pulse Points live in small dusty towns, glittering exotic cities and slow droll suburbs; they are mourners, survivors and perpetrators.
In the award-winning 'Aokigahara', a young woman travels to the sea of trees in Japan to say goodbye. In 'Coarsegold', a woman conducts an illicit affair while her recovering girlfriend works the overnight motel shift in the middle of nowhere. In 'Dogs', Foggo runs an unruly gang of bored, cruel boys with a scent for fresh meat. In 'Pressure Okay', a middle-aged man goes to the theatre, gets a massage, remembers his departed wife, navigates the long game of grief with his adult daughter.
Jennifer Down, whose first novel, Our Magic Hour, was commended in the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, is a masterful stylist whose sharp eye has been compared to that of Helen Garner. Pulse Points is a gutting collection that showcases a writer of great talent.
Pulse Points is available via Text Publishing.
‘These stories are studies in concision and with their strong social justice message they function like shocks. Though they are often about the disempowered, they ripple out with a seismic intensity, hinting at just how far this dazzling young writer might go.’
— The Australian
‘Down deftly balances hope and sorrow—a tightrope walk that makes even the banal seem salient. [...] A collection pulsing with emotion; a writer crackling with potential.’
‘This is a finely crafted collection that reminds us how sad and beautiful it is simply to be alive [...] It’s probably insulting to comment upon how young she is, but the emotional depth of her writing displays a gift that will no doubt continue to unfold as her body of work grows.’
— Saturday Paper
‘Down is exemplary at drawing whole characters and quickly giving them depth. Stories are heavy with atmosphere, and words are chosen with care…She has a knack of talking honestly about the nature of contemporary life, and I look forward to more.’
— Sydney Morning Herald
‘With precise and beautiful prose, the short stories in Jennifer Down’s Pulse Points carry an emotional clarity and intensity that is truly impressive.’
‘Pulse Points is an impressively poised and even collection…Down’s stories are alive with psychological acuity and technical dexterity. They offer thoughtful, sometimes heartbreaking, insights into our anxieties and desires…Readers of her intelligent, subtle, and affecting prose clearly have much to look forward to.’
— Australian Book Review
‘Jennifer Down is a subtly extraordinary writer, and Pulse Points is one of the best Australian literary offerings we’ll see this year.’
— Good Reading
‘Pulse Points consolidates [Down’s] reputation as a remarkable young writer. Her stories are effortlessly global yet strongly anchored in place. They testify to Down’s remarkable powers of observation and her ability to create bleak but engaging worlds.’
— Michelle de Kretser, ‘Best Books of 2017’, Australian Book Review
‘Pulse Points is fluid, graceful and shocking. Down serves life up ruthlessly to us, in small, heart-wrenching packages, overturning expectations swiftly from story to story, but leaving us faintly uplifted in the end.’
‘After reading Jennifer Down’s first novel Our Magic Hour last year, I was keen to read her short story collection Pulse Points, which showcases her range and talent. Though Down’s stories travel from regional Victoria to Middle America and Japan, they are distinctly Australian and overwhelmingly about class.’
Gretchen Shirm, 'Books of the Year 2017', Australian
‘Pulse Points isn’t just made up of technical proficiencies and clever motifs, it is a quick heartbeat.’
— Writers Bloc
‘Down’s ability to inhabit the minds of her characters is eerily good, and no two voices in this collection seem alike. Her prose is tight and original. This is the sort of book that bibliophiles will delight in underlining, collecting those sentences too good to leave on the page…It is a collection which will bring you to your knees.’
— AU Review