Permafrost - SJ Norman - Keeping Up With The Penguins

When I heard that a new short story collection would be “inverting and queering the gothic and romantic traditions”, my ears pricked up.

Then I saw it compared to Carmen Maria Machado’s Her Body And Other Parties – yes, please!

Permafrost is a collection of seven short stories by SJ Norman, and I was lucky enough to receive a copy from UQP for review.

The stories in this collection are chilling at times, erotic at times, and there’s a lot of “young Aussie abroad” content (young restless people being angsty in various parts of Europe).

As a secondhand bookseller, I felt a particular affinity with the third story Secondhand; in fact, the store Norman describes was so similar to my actual workplace, I ended up messaging colleagues to check whether they worked there before I did.

The stories are all well written, but otherwise not much particularly sets them apart. They feel familiar, rather than brave or piercing.

Permafrost is stable foundation from which Norman will hopefully grow and explore in their work.