'She talked about the ways in which everything is connected to everything; that the lungs are an extension of the air in which you live and move around. She said no person is an island.
So I asked, “What are we then? Continents? Planets? Solar systems?”
Later, she told me we were car parks, where the self is just a little bit of grey concrete marked out by painted white lines and we define ourselves by who we let drive in and how long they stay.'
A Long Bicycle Ride into the Sea
What the critics say
“In this first collection, Gresham, conscious and cosmopolitan mongrel writer of the world, seems to have broken key ground and taken the Singapore short story into a newer, freer, adaptably post-national, and highly readable space.”
“In ten short stories, Jon Gresham brilliantly and tenderly leads us down a gallery that displays sketches both geographically and emotionally Singaporean”
"His stories carry a unique surreality that is refreshing to Singapore short fiction, even within the speculative genre. He never settles upon a single trope. He is always hovering, flitting from social realism to folktale to magical realism to horror."
In Singapore, Australia and Jakarta, worlds fall apart, everyone is looking for an escape and nothing will be the same again.
These stories concern loneliness, disorientation, the framing of narratives, the mishmash of race and identity, the significance of the past in an uncertain present, and the delusions and distractions that obscure meaning and self awareness.
About the Stories
We Rose Up Slowly - As gravity leaks away, a young couple have to decide whether to rise up slowly.
Rashid at the Sail - A young man, kicked out of home by his mother, stays in his brother’s luxury condominium at The Sail trying to work out what to do with his life.
Walking Backwards Up Bukit Timah Hill - A strange beast lurking in the jungle on Bukit Timah Hill transforms the lives of a civil servant and a teacher.
Death of a Clown - In a nursing home in Johor Bahru a son finally meets his dying father, a famous clown.
Idiot & Dog - In Adelaide, a young electrician begs his Singaporean Australian girlfriend to take in a stray dog.
A Fleeting Tenderness at the End of Night - Outside one of Singapore’s famous night clubs, Zouk, a taxi drives away from a wealthy businessman and a hostess.
These stories & more can be found in We Rose Up Slowly
The stories in We Rose Up Slowly re-imagine the tragic collision between a Ferrari and a taxi at the intersection of Rochor and Victoria Roads, the last days of a famous patriarchal clown from the Tai Thean Kew Circus, and the lives of domestic workers and their privileged, expatriate employers. These stories ‘play’ with the problems caused by encroaching development as deer, boars, monkeys and other wild creatures leave the jungle and enter the urban areas of Singapore, the controversy over the major highway construction at Bukit Brown cemetery, and the gnawing regret of writers who leave the country of their birth in search of a better life elsewhere.
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The Inspiration behind the Book
"I was inspired to write the stories in We Rose Up Slowly by ‘topical’ events and issues in Singapore."
"The episodes and concerns of the last five years touched on in the book highlight the view that we are on the edge of possibility as old narratives and certainties give way to a new discontent, a sense of creeping chaos as people and places change and change again."
"The death of Singapore’s respected first Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, the increasing gap between rich and poor, the impact of climate change, the growing assertiveness of China with its huge debt and economic issues, the rise of nationalism and concerns about migration, the aging population, high levels of personal debt, all provide a thematic context for We Rose Up Slowly. There is a sense that from a Singaporean perspective we are at an inflexion point, on the cusp of a new era, facing greater challenges as many ‘post-independence’ assumptions no longer hold sway."
"I have made Singapore my home and care about the place and I wanted to explore that sensibility so I wrote these stories."
About Jon Gresham
In 2010 after twelve years without completing a single story, Jon was encouraged to write again after reading and successfully submitting to the Singaporean literary journal, Ceriph. We Rose Up Slowly gathers stories he has written since 2010 and one written in 1998.
These stories are a cornucopia, a mash up, a mongrel. They reflect Jon Gresham's hybrid origins, identity and experience living in Singapore.
Jon Gresham was born in England, grew up in Australia and has lived in Singapore since late 2002. His stories, flash fiction and prose poems have been published in anthologies and journals including A Luxury We Cannot Afford, From the Belly of the Cat, Eastern Heathens, Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, Twenty-Four Flavours and Coast.