Reading through Sylvia Petter's "The Past Present" is very much like Ben, the leprechaun's "travelling, ... drifting in a cloudy, lovely world" where flickers of sunshine wipe away the sometimes harsh realities of daily life. Each character's intimate perceptions of his close environment are rendered through skilfully etched flashes of his or her experiences. Discover the diverse messages of these highly contrasting short stories and please yourself by taking a trip into the author's haywire imagination, humour and word-play. My personal choice goes to "An Imaginary Friend" but why not find out "The True Story of What Really Happened to Humpty the D."?
- Sophie Elias, Paris
To get the progressive sense of a unifying theme, I recommend reading 'The Past Present' from start to finish like a novel. The title really kicks in as you move from one story to the next - how people and places in our past add up to who we are in the present. By reading each story successively you also appreciate the way the collection has been paced; the rhythms created by the varying length and intensity of the stories (always powerful situations built through dialogue and - especially those set in Australia - gorgeous descriptions of place) are like life's rhythms.
- Gail Mangold-Vine, American writer living in Switzerland
Sylvia Petter's "The Past Present" is just that; the past brought into today's light. Petter whips up a witty and whimsical batch of brilliant 'nouvelles' which give varying representations of her own days of yore. These quick and concise tales range from adventures with leprechauns to heart wrenching accounts of life affected by World War II. Her dramas span continents and are envisioned by a colorfully mixed cast of characters. Woven through time, these tales seem to silhouette Petter's own questions and lifelong conclusions; she pours secrets and tells of lovely lonely memories. While each story demands reflection, the work left me asking for more from Sylvia Petter. Each story averages about 4 pages making this book an ideal commuter's read.
- Nichelle Wood, Associate Producer for WRG fm (World Radio Geneva), Geneva, Switzerland
Petter has a way of looking at the world that can be funny, moving, and original all at the same time. - Susan Jordan, Boston, USA
"Here is an unusual and brilliant collection of stories. Each one is carefully crafted with dialogue that dips the reader right into the drama of contemporary lives. Take a moment and enjoy a roller coaster ride around Europe, and back and forth to Australia, the country of origin of author Sylvia Petter. Discover what crossing cultures does to falling in love (Apple of Paradise, Friends and Lovers). Remember what it felt like growing up (Fire Cries). Feel compassion for people growing old (The Past Present, Happy Returns). Appreciate heightened moments of awareness (Bobbin Head) and flights into fantasy (An Imaginary Friend). Sylvia Petter's writing is both honest and imaginative. The author lives in a multi-cultured world and does not shy away from the shadows (The Tschusch, Viennese Blood). By moments there remains a hallucinatory image that haunts the reader long afterwards (Mind Wisps, Back Burning). And there is redemption. The stories matter. Love matters. Life transforms."