THE COMMON RAT book cover   The Common Rat
Carmel Bird

Cover illustration by Anita Mertzlin. Cover design by Meredith Parslow

Dustjacket synopsis:
"A sniper is shooting indiscriminately at people in their cars. In the suburbs the women get Red Riding Hood virus. A woman obsessed by cleaning and dirt drinks disinfectant, and another opens her door to a rat.

"These twenty-nine stories and essays bring into strange focus the beauty, violence and irony of everyday life. Carmel Bird's language is elegant, deadpan, and her dark fables of the last decade of the twentieth century delight and startle."

"A most uncommon writer. Splendidly original". - Thea Astley

"Asking for Trouble"
"The Common Rat"
"The Cricketers' Arms"
"Red Letters"
"P.D. Hepworth, Architect"
"Henry Lawson's Chromosome"
"Soldier of the Round Valleys"
"Regular Engagement"
"The Hair and the Teeth"
"Pomona Avenue"
"The Breast of the Black Madonna"
"Selling Up"
"The Sea is Going to France"
"Woman in Dark Clothing"
"I Hear the Chopper Going Over"
"Thinking Like That"
"Every Home Should Have a Cedar Chest"
"All the Household Linens"
"The Red Riding Hood Virus"
"One With the Lot"
"The Balloon Lady"
"The Golden Earring of Hepzibah-May Mull"
"Maytime Fair"
"Special Connection"
"Getting My Mother's Sewing Machine Across Bass Strait"
"Walking Away With Herself"

First Paragraph from the Title Story:

The first rat I saw was one that lived in the wall behind my bed and ran across the top of the bedhead. I shared the bedroom in college with two other girls who were called Claudette and Shirley. In the fashion of the time girls were named after film stars and in college we had two Deannas and quite a few Jeanettes. I felt a kind of heaviness on the wooden bedhead and when I put on the light beside the bed the rat ran from one side of the bed to the other and went out of sight behind the bookcase. I sort of screamed.

'Put out the light,' Claudette said. 'Shut up.' Claudette needed her rest and got distinctions in nearly every subject including Anglo-Saxon and psychology. She had a moustache and long black hairs around her nipples.

From the McPhee Gribble paperback edition, 1993.

This page and its contents are copyright © 2002 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

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Last modified: January 17, 2002.