Friday, March 27, 2020

150 Fabulous Stories to Help Flatten the Curve

It's a challenging period, and in parts of the world it's more than challenging – it's tragic. My sympathies go out to all those who have suffered loss. 

During this time of isolation and social distancing, I thought I'd suggest some fabulous stories, predominantly 'long' short stories, from my last decade of reading.  I'll add two each day. Now and then, I'll attach a link for the inquisitive, whether it's the story itself, or reviews, or interviews, or read extracts. A few sites only allow limited views before subscribing, such as The New Yorker and Esquire. All stories are available in print, which is still my personally preferred format for reading fiction. 

I hope the recommended reads help out a little as we all do our best to flatten the curve. 

29/3 No. 1 & 2

'Bog Girl' by Karen Russell (Orange World & Other Stories. Originally published in The New Yorker).

‘The Swimmer’ by John Cheever (also originally published in The New Yorker).

30/3 No.3 & 4
Orange World’ by Karen Russell (Orange World and Other Stories. Originally published in The New Yorker)
Bullet in the Brain’ by Tobias Wolff (Originally published in The New Yorker)

31/3 No. 5 & 6
'Sea Oak' by George Saunders (Pastoralia. Originally published in The New Yorker

'The Dead Hand Loves You’ by Margaret Atwood (Stone Mattress)

1/4 No.7 & 8 are from two of my favourite contemporary American writers: 
‘from Children’s Reminiscences of the Westward Migration’ by Karen Russell (St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. Originally published in Conjunctions) 

Jon’ by George Saunders (My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead ed. Jeffrey Eugenides and In Persuasion Nation: Stories. Originally published in The New Yorker)

2/4 No. 9 & 10 are two very fine imaginative American stories. Once sci-fi and the other an urban fantasy. Steinbeck wrote some beautiful urban fantasy – well before the term was even coined for the genre.
'Rachel in Love' by Pat Murphy (I read it in The Locus Awards: Thirty Years of the Best in Science Fiction and Fantasy Ed. Charles N. Brown & Jonathan Strahan - a life changing anthology for me. Originally published in Asimov's)
'Johnny Bear’ by John Steinbeck (from The Long Valley. Originally published in Esquire.) Link below.

If you went out with a girl in the village of Loma, it was a good idea to take a dog along

3/4 No. 11& 12 are two beautiful stories from the fantasy genre: 

'Firebird' by R. Garcia y Robertson (Year's Best Fantasy 2, 2002 Ed. David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer)
'Chanterelle' by Brian Stableford (Year's Best Fantasy, 2001 Ed. David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer. Originally published in Black, Ivory Bones Ed. Ellen Datlow & Terry Windling)

4/4 No. 13 & 14 are two gems from different genres. A magical realist story from Karen Russell and an equally superb realist story from Richard Ford. 

'The New Veterans' by Karen Russell (read in Vampires in the Lemon Grove. Originally published in Granta: Winter 2013)
'Fireworks' by Richard Ford (read in My Mistress Sparrow is Dead. Ed Jeffrey Eugenides. Originally published in Rock Springs)

5/4 No. 15 & 16 are two more stories in the urban fantasy/magical realist vein.

'Neighbors' by Megan Lindholm (from Dangerous Women Ed. George R.R Martin & Gardner Dozois)
'Making a Noise in the World' by Charles De Lint (first read in Year's Best Fantasy (2001) Ed. David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer. Originally published in Warrior Fantastic Ed. Mark Greenberg.)

6/4 No. 17 & 18 Margaret Atwood's writing has become more humorous of late, and her recent collection, Stone Mattress, is no exception. And I've a love for Richard Yates short work, in fact, I've devoured all of his stories. Eleven Kinds of Loneliness is a sublime collection, as is another of his, which I'll mention tomorrow. 

'Dark Lady' by Margaret Atwood (Stone Mattress).
‘Out with the Old’ by Richard Yates (Eleven Kinds of Loneliness)
For those interested in more on Yates, read the article about him in The Atlantic.

7/4 No. 19 & 20 are again from Yates and Atwood. They're superb tales. Richard Yates' story is from his other equally amazing collection Liars in Love.

‘Alphinland’ by Margaret Atwood (Stone Mattress)
“Saying Goodbye to Sally” by Richard Yates (Liars in Love)

8/4 No.21 & 22 are two dark stories exploring lifespans, which display the strength and versatility of the short story form. The protagonists are also of questionable morality. 

'Fossil Figures' by Joyce Carol Oates (this story won The  World Fantasy Award. I first read it in Stories: All New Tales Ed. Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio; it can also be found in Oates' collection The Corn Maiden and Other Nightmares
'Troll Bridge' by Neil Gaiman (short listed for The World Fantasy Award. This was originally published in Snow White, Blood Red Ed. Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling. I first read it in Neil Gaiman's collection Smoke & Mirrors)

9/4 No. 23 & 24 are from that reteller of fairy tales Angela Carter. A couple of bloody good stories from The Bloody Chamber & Other Stories:
'Puss-in Boots' by Angela Carter
'The Bloody Chamber' by Angela Carter

10/4 No.25 & 26. Once again, Richard Yates surgically dissects human happiness; and with Joyce Carol Oates' story you'll never think of mannequins again in the same way!

'A Glutton for Punishment' by Richard Yates (Eleven Kinds of Loneliness)
'Madison at Guignol' by Joyce Carol Oates (read in The Female of the Species. Originally published in Kenyon Review)

11/4 No. 27 & 28 Hitting Russell and Yates again. Russell's story will give you a taste of Russell's novel Swamplandia, which was short listed for The Pulitzer Prize.  
‘Ava Wrestles the Alligator’ by Karen Russell (St. Lucy’s HOME for Girls RAISED by WOLVES. Originally published in Zoetrope).

'A Private Posession' by Richard Yates (Collected Stories
The link is similar to the review I was invited to write for Meanjin's Blog on Russell's Swamplandia (now vanished into Ether-Ether Land).

Book Review: Swamplandia! by Karen Russell (2011) Robin Pen, my resident book guru at Planet Books (in Perth), ensured me that Swampl...

12/4 No. 29 &30
“Fits” by Alice Munro (The Progress of Love
‘The Deep’ by Anthony Doerr (That Glimpse of Truth Ed. David Miller) This won 2011 Sunday Times EFG Private Bank Short Story Award in England (apparently the largest prize in the world for a single short story). 

13/4 No.31 & 32 Realise I've mentioned Karen Russell's stories several times here. Clearly, I'm a fan. 
‘Natasha’ by David Bezmozgis (first read in My Mistress Sparrow is Dead Ed. Jeffrey Eugenides, originally published in Natasha)  
'The Star Gazer’s Log of Summer-Time Crime’ by Karen Russell (St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. Originally published in Granta

14/4 No.33 & 34 are both from Rebecca Lee's collection Bobcat and Other Stories
‘Slatland’ by Rebecca Lee (Bobcat and Other Stories, first published in Atlantic Monthly)
‘Fialta’ by Rebecca Lee (Bobcat and Other Stories, first published in Zoetrope)

15/4 No.35 & 36Today's two stories are from wordsmiths: Angela Carter, and the ostentatious satirist, Will Self. Self, although both longlisted and shortlisted for The Booker Prize, polarises many readers. I've a love for most of his work. He'd be tossed out of most creative writing classes though – he's a major 'rule breaker'. The White Review's interview with Will Self is today's attachment for those interested in discovering more about this writing outlaw. 

'Waiting' by Will Self (The Quantity Theory of Insanity
'The Company of Wolves' by Angela Carter (The Bloody Chamber & Other Stories)

16/4 No.37 & 38

'No Pain Whatsoever' by Richard Yates (Eleven Kinds of Loneliness) 
'Mrs. Dutta Writes a Letter' by Chitra Divakaruni (Originally published in The Atlantic)

17/4 No. 39 & 40 I first read both of these stories in Jonathan Strahan's The Year's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume Six.

'Steam Girl' by Dylan Horrocks (Originally published in Steampunk! An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories)
'What We Found' by Geoff Ryman (Originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)

18/4 No. 41& 42 Today's pair of stories are the twists-and-turns kind. You'll be glued throughout.

'My Heart is Either Broken' by Megan Abbott (Dangerous Women Ed. George R.R Martin & Gardner Dozois)
'The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains' by Neil Gaiman (Stories Ed. Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio)

19/4 No. 43& 44 A pairing of stories leaning towards the surrealist genre. Weird, fantastical and beautiful stories. 

'Restoration' by Robert Shearman (I first read this in The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume Six Ed. Jonathan Strahan. Originally published in Everyones Just So So Special)
'Almost Days' by DK Mok (I read this in The Year's Best Australian Fantasy & Horror, 2015 Ed. Liz Grzyb & Talie Helene. Originally published in Insert Title Here Ed. Tehani Wessely) 

20/4 No. 45 & 46 

'Second Arabesque, Very Slowly' by Nancy Kress (Dangerous Women Ed. George R.R Martin & Gardner Dozois) 
'Z.Z's Sleep-Away Camp for Disordered Dreamers' by Karen Russell (St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. Originally published in Conjunctions)

21/4 No. 47 & 48 Today's pair give a unique slant to ghost stories. 

'Haunting Olivia' by Karen Russell (St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. Originally published in The New Yorker)
'Old Habits' by Nalo Hopkinson (Originally published in Eclipse Four Ed. Jonathan Strahan)

22/4 No. 49 & 50. Two 'long' short stories today (my favourite kind) from Australian writers. James Bradley's is an enchanting fantasy story –an exquisite retelling of Rapunzel; and Tim Winton's is a gritty realist one. Both are equally beautiful. 

'Boner McPharlin's Moll' by Tim Winton (read in That Glimpse of Truth. Originally published in The Turning)
'Beauty's Sister' by James Bradley (read in That Glimpse of Truth. Originally published as a stand alone)

23/4 No. 51 & 52. Today's pairing rhymes...

'Pulse' by Julian Barnes (Pulse)
'Dulse' by Alice Munro (Moons of Jupiter)

24/4 No. 53 & 54 Today's stories are from two Australian masters of fantasy with very different styles. Margo Lanagan often has a unique 'folksy' voice, and in a structural sense has more abstract and unique entry and exit points, while Angela Slatter is a jeweller in a more traditional manner, every word and scene is carefully chosen, and any extraneous matter is cut with a gem maker's precision. The result is that there is a raw beauty and originality to Lanagan's work, while Slatter's prose is aesthetically remarkable and the final product especially well-balanced and well-polished. Both produce beautiful rhythmic prose in their own right. 

'Earthly Uses' by Margo Lanagan (Black Juice)
'The Coffin-Maker's Daughter' by Angela Slatter (read in The Year's Best Australian Fantasy & Horror, 2011 Ed. Liz Grzyb & Talie Helene. Originally published in A Book of Horrors)

25/4 No. 55 &56. 

'Buffalo' by John Kessel (read in The Locus Awards Ed. Jonathan Strahan & Charles N. Brown. Originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction)
'The Lady in the House of Love' by Angela Carter (read in The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories. Originally published in The Iowa Review)

26/4 No.57 & 58.

'Patricia, Edith, and Arnold' by Dylan Thomas (Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog)
'Images' by Alice Munro (The Dance of the Happy Shades)

27/4 No.59 & 60 are a couple of older classics. Yates' is from 1974 & Capote's from 1945. 

'Evening on the Cote d'Azur' by Richard Yates (read in Uncollected Stories in Collected Stories. Originally published in Ploughshares)
'My Side of the Matter' by Truman Capote (read in A Capote Reader. Originally published in Story)

28/4 No.61 & 62 An explorative 'realist' story from James Salter; and a structurally innovative tale in which the tables are completely turned midway through the story from the imaginative mind of Michael Swanwick.

'Palm Court' by James Salter (read in That Glimpse of Truth. Originally published in Last Night: Stories)
'The Bordello in Faerie' by Michael Swanwick (read in A Dog Said Bow-Wow. Originally published in Postscripts)

29/4 No.63 & 64 The love for Karen Russell's work continues. Both of these can be found in Russell's delectable collection, Vampires in The Lemon Grove, and both were originally published in Tin House. 

'Reeling for the Empire'
'The Seagull Army Descends on Strong Beach' 

30/4 No.65 & 66. Today's stories are from a contemporary writer and one that has passed away a while ago. Kelly Link's story was first published in 2007, and John Cheever's in 1954. 

'The Wrong Grave' by Kelly Link (first read in The Wrong Grave. Originally published in The Restless Dead: Ten Original Stories of the Supernatural)
'The Five-Forty-Eight' by John Cheever (Originally published in The New Yorker)

1/5 No.67 & 68 A pair of timeless classics

'The Hitchhiking Game' by Milan Kundera (first read in My Mistress Sparrow is Dead Ed. Jeffrey Eugenides. Originally published in Laughable Loves)
'Too Early Springs' by Stephen Vincent Benet (The Selected Works of Stephen Vincent Benet)

2/5 No.69 & 70 My two favourite Haruki Murakami stories – mind you, I haven't read all of his tales. This pair is from his collection The Elephant Vanishes. The link is to a podcast of Andrea Lee reading 'Barn Burning'. 

'The Dancing Dwarf' (first English publication in The Elephant Vanishes)

'Barn Burning' (first English publication in The New Yorker). 

3/5 No.71 & 72 And another couple from Alice Munro. Because, you's Munro...Both originally published in The New Yorker. 

'The Bear Came Over the Mountain' (first read in My Mistress Sparrow is Dead Ed. Jeffrey Eugenides.)
'The Turkey Season' (first read in The Moons of Jupiter)

4/5 No.73 & 74 Today's stories are from E.L Doctorow. I first read both in his collection, All the Time in the World, and both were also originally published in The New Yorker. 

'Edgemont Drive

5/5 No.75 & 76 Two classics: Isaac Bashevis Singer's story was translated by Saul Bellows in 1954; and Frank O'Connor's story was first published in 1931. I read both in That Glimpse of Truth. 

'Gimpel the Fool' by Isaac Bashevis Singer
'Guests of the Nation' by Frank O'Connor 

6/5 No.77 & 78 A return to The Antipodes. Lisa L. Hannett's stories, in my experience, often have an ethereal atmosphere and are highly rewarding. Hannett's newly released collection is Songs for Dark Seasons; and Faith Mudge is a beautiful storyteller. 

'Forever, Miss Tapekwa County' by Lisa L. Hannett (first read in The Year's Best Australian Fantasy & Horror, 2011 Ed. Liz Grzyb & Talie. Originally published in Bluegrass Symphony)
'The Oblivion Box' by Faith Mudge (Dreaming of Djinn Ed. Liz Grzyb)

7/5 No. 79 & 80

'A House on the Plains' by E.L Doctorow (read in All the Time in the World. Originally published in The New Yorker)
'The B.A.R Man' by Richard Yates (read in Eleven Kinds of Loneliness. Originally published in Esquire)

8/5 No. 81 & 82 Today's pairing are both 'wild stories'. Valente's a wonderful animalistic 'coming-of-age' story; and Peter M. Ball's mad-cap ride is a purposeful fusion of as many genres as possible.

'White Lines on a Green Field' by Catherynne M. Valente (I first read this in The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year, Volume Six Ed. Jonathan Strahan. Originally published in Subterranean)

'Dying Young' by Peter M. Ball (Eclipse Four Ed. Jonathan Strahan) 

9/5 No. 83 & 84 Today's stories are 'entertainments', replete with twists and turns. Both tales are from George R.R Martin & Gardner Dozois' anthology Rogues.

'The Curious Affair of the Dead Wives' by Lisa Tuttle
'How the Marquis Got his Coat Back' by Neil Gaiman

10/5 No. 85 & 86 The love affair with Richard Yates continues...Both from his collection Eleven Kinds of Loneliness. 

'Jody Rolled the Bones'
'The Best of Everything'

11/5 No. 87 & 88 

'Breaking the Pig' by Etgar Keret (The Bus Driver Who Wanted to be God and Other Stories)
'Revenant' by Margaret Atwood (Stone Mattress)

12/5 No. 89 & 90 

'The Comptroller and the Wild Wind' by Richard Yates (Uncollected Stories in Collected Stories
'Hanwell in Hell' by Zadie Smith (read in Martha and Hanwell. Originally published in The New Yorker)

13/5 No. 91 & 92 Today's are both from Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories. Angela Carter was a rare writer whose prose aesthetic was, on occasion, more integral to her narratives than the plot.

'The Erl King' (Originally published in Bananas, but revised for The Bloody Chamber and Other Stories)
'The Courtship of Mr Lyon' (originally published in British Vogue)

14/5 No.93 & 94 Little more from two favourites:Richard Yates & Angela Carter

'The Werewolf' by Angela Carter (Originally published in South-West Arts Review, but revised for The Bloody Chamber & Other Stories)
'Regards at Home' by Richard Yates (Liars in Love)

15/5 No. 95 & 96

'A Really Good Jazz Piano' by Richard Yates (Eleven Kinds of Loneliness). Trivia: this story was rejected nine times.
'Fever Flower' by Shirley Ann Grau (Black Prince and Other Stories)

16/5 No.97 & 98

'Torching the Dusties' by Margaret Atwood (Stone Mattress)
'Unlighted Lamps' by Sherwood Anderson (The Triumph of the Egg)

17/5 No.99 & 100

'Bad Characters' by Jean Stafford (Bad Characters. Originally published in The New Yorker)
'The Turkey Season' by Alice Munro (The Moons of Jupiter. Originally published in The New Yorker)

18/5 No.101 & 102

'First Confession' by Frank O'Connor (The Stories of Frank O'Connor. Originally published in Lovat Dickson's Magazine)
'Tenth of December' by George Saunders (read in Tenth of December. Originally published in The New Yorker)

19/5 No.103 & 104. A couple more dark fantasy tales from Down Under.

'Palming the Lady' by Deborah Biancotti (Bad Power)
'Unnamed Children' by Joanne Anderton (Bloodines Ed. Amanda Pillar)

20/5 No.105 & 106 

'The Moon in its Flight' by Gilbert Sorrentino (read in My Mistress Sparrow is Dead Ed. Jeffrey Eugenides, from The Moon in its Flight)
'Escape from Spiderhead' by George Saunders (read in Tenth of December. Originally published in The New Yorker)

21/5 No.107 & 108

'Nothing Visible' by Siddharta Deb (read in That Glimpse of Truth Ed. David Miller. Originally published in Heat)
'Flicking the Flint' by Anna Krien (The Best Australian Stories 2014 Ed. Amanda Lohrey)

22/5 No.109 & 1110 Today's are escapist spec-fic tales, both from Rogues Ed. George R.R Martin & Gardner Dozois.

'Heavy Metal' by Cherie Priest
'The Inn of the Seven Blessings' by Matthew Hughes

23/5 No.111 & 112

'Red Rose, White Rose' by Eileen Chang (Read in My Mistress's Sparrow is Dead Ed. Jeffrey Eugenides. Originally published in Love is a Fallen City. Also available as a Penguin stand alone)
'The Ballad of Paul Nonetheless' by Sherman Alexie (War Dances)

24/5 No.113 & 114 A couple of incredibly fun escapist stories.

'The Meaning of Love' by Daniel Abraham (Rogues Ed. George R.R Martin & Gardner R. Doizois)
'Yesterday, Near a Village Called Barden' by Joe Abercrombie (Sharp Ends)

25/5 No.115 & 116

'The Cold Outside' by John Burnside (read in That Glimpse of Truth Ed. David Miller. Originally published in The New Yorker)
'Two Boys' by Lorrie Moore (read in That Glimpse of Truth Ed. David Miller. Originally published in Two Boys)

26/5 No. 117& 118 A couple of innovative sci-fi stories.

'Confessions of a Con Girl' by Nick Wolven (read and originally published in Asimov's Nov/Dec 2017. Audio and reprint attached from Clarkesworld). 
'Microcosmic Dog' by Michael Swanwick (Tales of Old Earth. Originally published in Science Fiction Age).

27/5 No. 119 & 120 

'Trespass' by Julian Barnes (Pulse. Originally published in The New Yorker)
'Min' by Rebecca Lee (Bobcat and Other Stories)

28/5 No.121 & 122 A couple of dark American mysteries.

'The Stars are Falling' by Joe R Lansdale (Stories Ed. Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio)
'Angel of Wrath' by Joyce Carol Oates (The Female of the Species. Originally published in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)

29/5 No.123 & 124 Finding diamonds in less prominent places. These two stories are both from The Sky Falls Down: An Anthology of Loss Ed. Terry Whitebeach & Gina Mercer

'State of the Heart' by Carol Patterson
'Calving' by Georgina Luck

30/5 No.125 & 126 Today's stories are both from the anthology Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar: Stories of Work Ed. Richard Ford.

'Geese' by ZZ Packer (Originally published in From Drinking Coffee Elsewhere)
'High Lonesome' by Joyce Carol Oates (Originally published in High Lonesome)

31/5 No.127 & 128 Two more fantasy tales.

'My Brother Quentin' by Janeen Samuel (ASIM 44 Ed. Felicity Dowker)
'What the Tyger Told her' by Kage Baker (Read in Year's Best Fantasy 2 Ed. David G. Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer 2002. Originally published in Realms of Fantasy)

1/6 No. 129 & 130 Two gems from a smaller press anthology We'll Stand in That Place and Other Stories Ed. Michelle Cahill (Margaret River Press).

'Cinta Ku' by Mirandi Riwoe
Mycorrhizal Networks' by Lynette Washington

2/6 No.131 & 132

'Drummond and Son' by Charles D'Ambrosio (Read in Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar: Stories of Work Ed. Richard Ford. Originally published in The New Yorker)
'Black Corfu' by Karen Russell (Read in Orange World. Originally published in Zoetrope)

3/6 No.133 & 134

'The Store' by Edward P. Jones (Read in Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar Ed. Richard Ford. Originally published in Lost in the City)
'Adam' by Kurt Vonnegut (Welcome to the Monkey House. Originally published in Cosmopolitan)

4/6 No. 135 & 136 

'The Country of the Blind' by HG Wells (linked to the audio version)
'Half Past' by Samantha Murray (read in The Year's Best Australian Fantasy & Horror 2015 Ed. Liz Grzyb & Talie Helene)

5/6 No.137 & 138

'Pharmacy' by Elizabeth Strout (read in Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar Ed. Richard Ford. Originally published in Olive Kitteredge) Link to an excerpt.
'The Chrysanthemums' by John Steinbeck (The Long Valley. Originally published in Harper's Magazine)

6/6 No. 139 & 140

'The Deposition' by Tobias Wolff (read in Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar Ed. Richard Ford. Originally published in The New Yorker)
'Foreign Shores' by James Salter (read in Blue Collar, White Collar, No Collar Ed. Richard Ford. Originally published in Esquire)

7/6 No. 141 & 142

'The Bad Graft' by Karen Russell (from Orange World and Other Stories. Originally published in The New Yorker)
'Singing My Sister Down' by Margo Lanagan (Black Juice)

8/6 No.143 & 144

'Breaking and Entering' by Sherman Alexie (War Dances)
'Live Bait' by Frank Touhy (Read in That Glimpse of Truth Ed. David Miller. Originally published in Live Bait and Other Stories)

9/6 No.145 & 146

'The Children Stay' by Alice Munro (The Love of a Good Woman)
'Summer of '38' by Colm Toibin (Read in That Glimpse of Truth Ed. David Miller. Originally published in The New Yorker)

10/6 No.147 & 148. The comical with the tragic.

'Mixed Breeding' by Nicola Barker (Read in That Glimpse of Truth Ed. David Miller. Originally published in the Observer)
'A Clinical Romance' by Richard Yates (Uncollected Stories in Collected Stories)

11/6 No.149 & 150

'Lichen' by Alice Munro (The Progress of Love)
'Perpetual Light' by Margo Lanagan (Black Juice)

Monday, March 16, 2020

Perth GP and Communicable Disease Doctor's Perspective on COVID-19 (Coronavirus)

This is a brief segue from the writing and reading I occasionally blog about.

The below is from my uncle, Dr Terry Pitsikas, a well respected GP, and also the founder of The Lindisfarne Medical Group in Perth. He now predominantly works at Royal Perth Hospital in the Department of Communicable Diseases.

Feel free to share. 


Can you please do whatever you want with this- facebook, pass it on. We GPs have not a voice but are at the front line; we are seeing the worried well and those with symptoms and as this disease grows we will be doing the caring- there are limited resources in the hospital system.
Please excuse the bio. I have tried to send this on but have not had response.
I have been trying to alert various people to the probable devastation that is going to come if we do not act soon or should I say “act early and act fast”.


My background is in General Practice, in Mt Lawley for 40 years and established what is now the Lindisfarne Medical Group. I work at RPH in the Department of Communicable Diseases and have spent considerable time in Aboriginal Health in Port Hedland and in Public Health advising the Aboriginal Health Council. From the onset of the HIV epidemic I was involved in diagnosis and management of this disease and for several years was the only GP with prescribing rights to anti-retroviral medication. 

A drug trial run by the CDC in Atlanta, Georgia, that I and RPH participated in one of the seminal trials that led to the acceptance of Triple Therapy as the standard treatment of HIV infection. My concern and suggestions are outlined below.

I have little confidence in the way the  Morrison Government has handled the Covid-19 crisis and find that the approach has been reactive and contradictory, and not consistent, changing advice from day to day. There does not appear to be an understanding of the way this disease has evolved and behaved elsewhere and of the consequences of inaction. Indeed this is a government of inaction and “none of that”.

Thank you for reading this note. I wrote it in the hope that a Lockdown will happen and that action is needed now.


One of the benefits of Perth’s isolation and strict quarantine measures for and at the time was that the 1918/1919 flu epidemic was delayed by 6 months after it began on the east coast in January 1919 and the death rate was much lower than in Sydney or Melbourne. By then the onset of warmer weather, a CSL developed vaccine against secondary bacterial infection (95,000 people in Perth were vaccinated) or the natural decline of the virulence of the virus contributed to the decrease in the death rate.


On a Lockdown for Western Australia

Perth people pride themselves on living in the most isolated city in the world. Its remoteness can be seen as an advantage. It is much easier to control the borders of Western Australia and access from other parts of Australia can be easily patrolled. The majority of human traffic is by plane and comparatively few people will enter by sea or road or rail. It will not be difficult to control who enters and leaves Perth and other airports in Western Australia.

The Timing of the Lockdown.
Italy has today announced that over 1,000 people have died as a result of infection with Covid-19. The region affected initially was the wealthy north; if it can happen in that part of Italy, why can’t it happen here? The country has gone into complete shutdown in response to the increasing positive diagnoses and increasing death rates. The north of Italy was to be affected but the rapid exodus resulted in the country being isolated. The question is when is a decision such as this made. How many deaths or diagnoses per head of population does it take to declare such an emergency? Should we in Western Australia wait for that to eventuate or do we go into lockdown now? It is clear we are unable to predict the spread of the virus over the next weeks and months and even the experts are quoted in the context of the likely spread of the virus in Perth as saying “it could go either way” (Professor Archie Clements, Curtin University). What we have seen in other countries is increasing numbers of people being infected with local spread being the predominant way of increasing these numbers. We talk about evidence base in modern medicine, but this is a pandemic the like of which we have never seen before in modern times; we don’t have evidence for anything we choose to do. It may be a matter of putting lives ahead of the economy which is already under stress. The economic effects of the virus are already evident- an example is the fall in tourism.

What is a Lockdown.
This means restricting people entering and leaving the parts of Western Australia that are chosen to be in Lockdown. If locals or residents need to travel then severe quarantine measures will be in place if they return. If self-quarantine is broken house arrest could be activated. There should not be a need to restrict exports or imports by whatever transport means, though transport workers will have restricted movements (and person to person interaction) once they reach their destination and will need to leave the lockdown area immediately after delivery or pickup. All meeting will have to be by remote access and this will even apply to the Federal Parliament.

Issues to do with Perth.
There is a world shortage of kits for testing for Covid-19, and there are restrictions on who can be tested. Whenever there is a shortage of pharmaceuticals it is always Perth and WA who are the last to receive supplies. It seems no different with the testing kits. It has also taken 5 full days for a patient to receive his result and that was only after he made several phone calls involving long periods of being on hold, whereas in Adelaide the result is returned in 36 hours. In Mr Dutton’s case his result was back a few hours later. There are 20% fewer GPs in Western Australia compared with other mainland states and this is also reflected in the medical workforce in general, hence the delay in the results with pressure on laboratory and other staff. If this virus gets out of control, which it has tended to do elsewhere, the medical and nursing workforce will be under unprecedented pressure. A few months reprieve which is the aim of the lockdown will allow time to source medical equipment and basic products needed for treating affected patients and protecting the rest of the population.

A lockdown will be easier to implement in Perth and the rest of the state than in any other city in the world. It will buy time, time needed to see what treatments will work, time for a possible vaccine to be developed, time to see how other cities and countries resolved their issues whether by draconian action or by successful quarantining or by strict contact tracing and constant vigilance.

We can do this.

Terry L Pitsikas