In 2019, pre-COVID, while I still had the fortune of teaching undergraduate short-story writing in a real classroom, I had one of those puzzling moments of atmospheric shift whose source you can’t pinpoint but which leaves you a little disrupted. I want to call it discord, though there was no argument. And to call it atmospheric is misleading for it was in me, this troubling feeling—a sense of being on the edge of understanding; as though in our conversation we were skirting around a surface meaning, while something hostile bristled at the edges.
A student had brought for workshopping a story about a world governed according to the zodiac. People were bound to their destinies, from their professions to their living quarters, whom they could date, by their birth chart. Cancerians could only marry Cancerians, and so on.
Embrace Australia’s finest writers: subscribe to Meanjin
Subscriptions start at just $5 a month — which goes directly towards our writers’ fees.