Michael’s older brother dies at the beginning of the summer he turns 15, but as its title suggests The Incredible Here and Now is a tale of wonder, not of tragedy. Presented as a series of vignettes, in the tradition of Sandra Cisneros’ Young Adult classic The House on Mango Street, it tells of Michael’s coming of age in a year which brings him grief and romance; and of the place he lives in Western Sydney where ‘those who don’t know any better drive through the neighbourhood and lock their car doors’, and those who do, flourish in its mix of cultures. Through his perceptions, the reader becomes familiar with Michael’s community and its surroundings, the unsettled life of his family, the girl he meets at the local pool, the friends that gather in the McDonalds parking lot at night, the white Pontiac Trans Am that lights up his life like a magical talisman. Suitable for young readers from 14 years of age.
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A traveller becomes a Monroe impersonator in the casinos of Macau. An obsessive son of Australians living in Jakarta confronts his strange rituals. A young woman is trapped in the boredom of her father’s ministry in exotic Borneo. A daughter defies her mother and travels to Bali.
Castagna’s twenty stories range across countries: including Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and China, deftly exploring the relationships of parents and children, lovers and enemies, the transient and the resident. In the spirit of Rattawatt Lapacharoensap’s Sightseeing, Castagna’s fiction powerfully captures the landscapes and cultures of Asia and the intriguing interactions of Westerners with it