‘With precise and beautiful prose, the short stories in Jennifer Down’s Pulse Points carry an emotional clarity and intensity that is truly impressive.’ Books+Publishing
The characters in Jennifer Down’s Pulse Points live in small dusty towns, glittering exotic cities and slow droll suburbs; they are mourners, survivors and perpetrators.
In the award-winning ‘Aokigahara’, a young woman travels to the sea of trees in Japan to say goodbye. In ‘Coarsegold’, a woman conducts an illicit affair while her recovering girlfriend works the overnight motel shift in the middle of nowhere. In ‘Dogs’, Foggo runs an unruly gang of bored, cruel boys with a scent for fresh meat. In ‘Pressure Okay’ a middle-aged man goes to the theatre, gets a massage, remembers his departed wife, navigates the long game of grief with his adult daughter.
Jennifer Down, whose first novel, Our Magic Hour, was commended in the 2017 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award, is a masterful stylist whose sharp eye has been compared to that of Helen Garner. Pulse Points is a gutting collection that showcases her singular voice, and reminds us once more that this is a writer of great talent.
Jennifer Down was born in 1990. Our Magic Hour was highly commended in the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award. Her writing has appeared in the Age, Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday Paper, Australian Book Review, Kill Your Darlings, Lifted Brow, Best Australian Stories and Blue Mesa Review. She is one of Sydney Morning Herald’s Young Novelists of the Year, 2017.
‘Jennifer Down is a subtly extraordinary writer, and Pulse Points is one of the best Australian literary offerings we’ll see this year.’ Good Reading
‘All of the stories in this collection are examples of the extent to which empathy can be employed in fiction—Down looks at human emotion under a microscope in each of these stories, but always does so with care and compassion.’ Judges’ comments, Readings Prize for New Australian Fiction 2018
‘A haunting and evocative collection of stories about quietly courageous characters facing loss in its many forms.’ Abigail Ulman
‘Pulse Points exceeds all expectations…[it] has the precise, arresting prose and depth of feeling of Our Magic Hour, but the short story form magnifies Down’s skill…There are no weak moments here…A human pulse runs through this collection; these stories live and breathe, and as a result Pulse Points is powerful and deeply affecting.’ Readings
‘All the rapture and calamity of youth. Jennifer Down is a writer of rare insight and heart.’ Carrie Tiffany
‘Pulse Points is fluid, graceful and shocking. Down serves life up ruthlessly to us, in small, heart-wrenching packages, overturning expectations swiftly from story to story, but leaving us faintly uplifted in the end.’ Overland
‘Pulse Points isn’t just made up of technical proficiencies and clever motifs, it is a quick heartbeat.’ Writers Bloc
‘This is a finely crafted collection that reminds us how sad and beautiful it is simply to be alive. Down’s debut novel, Our Magic Hour, was shortlisted for the NSW Premier’s Award for New Writing and she was named a 2017 SMH Best Young Australian Novelist. It’s probably insulting to comment upon how young she is, but the emotional depth of her writing displays a gift that will no doubt continue to unfold as her body of work grows.’ Saturday Paper
‘Pulse Points is beautiful. It’s a bit like opening a sketchbook and brushing a hand against all the charcoal nudes inside…Down has insight into the human condition beyond her years and a talent for writing realism in unwaveringly sharp prose. In Pulse Points she uses these skills to make a statement about the many different hearts beating in the one universe, however unrelated they may seem. As with Our Magic Hour, readers will feel safe in the hands of such a skilful writer, one able to turn her awareness of the human condition into measured and universal storytelling.’ Anna Spargo-Ryan, Kill Your Darlings
‘I honestly couldn’t recommend Pulse Points more highly. These are snapshots of ordinary people grappling with the small joys and deeper heartaches of ordinary lives, and the result is a powerful and deeply affecting collection.’ Readings
‘Taking the reader from Melbourne to the USA, each beautifully crafted story is a fascinating escape into someone else’s life.’ Sunday Life
‘Down is exemplary at drawing whole characters and quickly giving them depth. Stories are heavy with atmosphere, and words are chosen with care…She has a knack of talking honestly about the nature of contemporary life, and I look forward to more.’ Sydney Morning Herald
‘One of the most heartbreakingly beautiful books I have ever read.’ Hot Chicks With Big Brains
‘Pulse Points is an impressively poised and even collection…Down’s stories are alive with psychological acuity and technical dexterity. They offer thoughtful, sometimes heartbreaking, insights into our anxieties and desires…Readers of her intelligent, subtle, and affecting prose clearly have much to look forward to.’ Australian Book Review
‘These stories are studies in concision and with their strong social justice message they function like shocks. Though they are often about the disempowered, they ripple out with a seismic intensity, hinting at just how far this dazzling young writer might go.’ Australian
‘Down’s ability to inhabit the minds of her characters is eerily good, and no two voices in this collection seem alike. Her prose is tight and original. This is the sort of book that bibliophiles will delight in underlining, collecting those sentences too good to leave on the page…It is a collection which will bring you to your knees.’ AU Review
‘A master of short fiction, this short story collection brings together works including her prize-winning ‘Aokigahara’…Down’s prose isn’t afraid of dark subject matter, and handles this with a sharpness and clarity that is a delight to read.’ Herald Sun
‘In this astonishing collection of short stories, Jennifer Down weaves intricate and moving portraits of love and loss…A powerful new talent.’ Weekly Times
‘[Down’s] back with a collection of stories, cementing her status as one of Australia’s finest literary talents.’ Marie Claire
‘Jennifer Down is going to be a major part of the future of Australian literature. The quality of her writing, as well as her ability to tap into the loves, fears and anxieties many of us experience guarantee this.’ Readings
‘Pulse Points consolidates [Down’s] reputation as a remarkable young writer. Her stories are effortlessly global yet strongly anchored in place. They testify to Down’s remarkable powers of observation and her ability to create bleak but engaging worlds.’ Michelle de Kretser, Best Books of 2017, Australian Book Review
‘This young Australian writer was named one of the Sydney Morning Herald’s Best Young Australian Novelists of 2017. Here she shows off her impressive skill as a short story writer…Jennifer Down shows great insight into human vulnerability.’ Good Reading, Best Fiction Books of 2017
‘Jennifer Down’s Pulse Points is full of perfectly crafted miracles of storytelling.’ Kill Your Darlings, Best of 2017
‘After reading Jennifer Down’s first novel Our Magic Hour last year, I was keen to read her short story collection Pulse Points, which showcases her range and talent. Though Down’s stories travel from regional Victoria to Middle America and Japan, they are distinctly Australian and overwhelmingly about class.’ Gretchen Shirm, Australian, Books of the Year 2017
‘The stories are both paradigms and gentle subversions of the short-story form…Down draws on the ordinary and everyday to deconstruct the myth of class mobility in this haunting and resonant collection.’ Judges’ comments, 2018 Sydney Morning Herald Best Young Australian Novelists
‘Down writes about love and friendship with an emotionally resonant sparseness...Rather than offering answers to life's big questions, the stories offer glimpses into people tackling them...A collection pulsing with emotion; a writer crackling with potential.’ Kirkus Reviews