Invisible mending by Mike Ladd

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Wakefield Press, 2016. ISBN 9781743054079
(Age: 16+) Commencing with wry observations about Adelaide and touching recollections of the lives of everyday people, Mike Ladd tells his stories in both poetry and prose.
Warmth, compassion and affection are evident in short stories and poems which reveal a lot of cynicism and even anger, sometimes tempered by a humour which prompts the reader to giggle.
As someone who is reluctant to spend time deciphering hidden meaning in unstructured poetry, I found the verse unpretentious, with a clear message. Often the poems contain simple observation, but are written in a way that the average reader can understand and appreciate the theme.
I identified with the characters in the short stories very much. The personal account of his family's friendship with a young refugee is very touching for so many reasons, but mainly because the writer emphasises that whilst these people are all around us, few of us try to get to know them.
Men depicted having hospital treatment were drawn with great realism and poignancy. I can imagine the writer mentally writing the piece whilst sitting in the ward with his desperately suffering father, over an extended period.
The style and theme of the works take an abrupt change as the author writes about his life overseas in Malaysia and Chile. His experience and knowledge give an insight on a range of topics. I particularly liked the depiction of a smuggling operation with a calm acknowledgement of what prompted various individuals, without attempting to excuse the behaviour.
I was left feeling that this author has a great affection for the world, despite being disappointed and sometimes distraught by the behaviour of people. It was delightful to read his short story about an impromptu catch up with a son who had been travelling and surviving on nothing in South America for two years. I found it affirming that the father was interested in alternate perspectives and was open to learning from the younger man whilst trying to cope with compressed time in a slightly surreal environment, unfamiliar and undesirable to both of them.
Most readers will find something they enjoy in this eclectic book.
Rob Welsh