By Meg Kennedy
It was a journey worthy of its own narrative that led Ballan resident Bob Carey-Grieve to win the inaugural ‘Best Local Entry Award’ at this year’s Peter Carey Short Story Awards.
‘Act III’ is a poignant, fleeting journey between two men reminiscing about a past life, taking the place of the student and the teacher; the younger man learns from his elderly counterpart nearing the end of his life, questioning what it all meant.
Mr Carey-Grieve says the inspiration behind writing ‘Act III’ was his own life.
A double stroke at just 42-years old in 2016 led to the discovery of a hole in his heart a year later, which then led to the discovery of a bowel cancer tumour; taking Mr Carey-Grieve on a journey of self-reflection and mortality during his chemotherapy treatments.
These themes resonate throughout his short story, retaining an impact long after the last word is drawn.
“A lot of the questions of starting to maybe feel a few creaks…you hope that sort of translates when you put the pen to paper,” he says, mentioning the idea of the “dramatic finale” that is cemented throughout the last act of operas.
“I was trying to challenge myself a bit this year and read some subjects I might not have normally considered and listening to some operas…the idea of the dramatic finale in the last act was resonating when you’re having some thoughts about your own mortality.”
Mr Carey-Grieve say it was “a very pleasant surprise” when he found out he had won the inaugural award, sharing at the ceremony that it was his son, Casper, who inspired him to give the competition a go.
“To be honest, it was like dipping a toe back in the water after a bit of a hiatus,” he says.
“I wasn’t expecting to do very well in it, but it was just way to kind of get myself back in the game and start making a few submissions…to get an acknowledgment on the first foray back into writing was pretty good.”
Originally from Scotland, Mr Carey-Grieve moved with his family to Ballan two years ago from Footscray.
He met his Australian wife, Bec, in the 1990s whilst he was studying as an art student in Glasgow. After re-kindling their relationship, the pair spent seven years in Glasgow and started a family, but decided it was time to head back to Australia.
“We’ve been out in Ballan for two-years now, and it’s kind of become home,” he says, commenting on the sense of community a smaller town like Ballan brings.
Mr Carey-Grieve’s next goal is more physical than literary, currently spending his early mornings training for the Run Melbourne event on 28 July.
So far Mr Carey-Grieve has raised over $3,500 for the Stroke Foundation to help raise awareness that strokes can happen at any age, irrespective of health and fitness.
You can donate to the Stroke Foundation via Bob’s fundraising link at https://runmelbourne2019.everydayhero.com/au/bob-carey-grieve-running-into-the-bin.