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By Charlotte Wood

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Always we acted as brothers. But we were acting. We weren’t exactly brothers, and we weren’t exactly friends. We were something in between. But this was an intriguing twist, being called on for advice. Until recently the role of the family bohemian, the black sheep, was mine. Even his handshake was different now, loose and metallic. All those silver rings on his fingers. Another in his left ear. Silver bracelets on each wrist, a necklace of little beads and seeds and stones, and another thin chain with some sort of gemstone pendant banging portentously against his sternum.

Twelve stories speaking of love and fear, separation and tenderness, confusion and—sometimes—reunion. When Patrick White’s sister Suzanne died, he wrote that he and she had nothing in common ‘beyond blood and a childhood’. But for so many, of course, blood and childhood is what haunts us, and always will. This book is for you. Charlotte Wood ABOUT THE OTHERS Virginia Peters I like the kitchen best because it’s the smallest and darkest room in the house. The little windows are overshadowed by a large pohutukawa tree, its knotted branches peering in through the window, tapping as the wind blows.

A mother can only do her best,’ she is saying. ‘No one is ever satisfied. ’ Her eyes cast down her shoulder at me, sadly. ‘You’re the best mumma in the world,’ I say, looking up at her. As we face forward again, I see our heads tilting together in the glass at the end of the carriage. ‘One day you’ll grow up and leave me,’ I hear her say. It’s spoken lightly, but my response is firm. ‘No I won’t. Never. ’ I like to go into my brothers’ bedrooms when they are out, to check their pockets for coins.

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