We Were Not Men by Campbell Mattinson

Published: 2021 Genre: Contemporary fiction 1. First lines 2. Cover: Harper Collins 3. Window [Public Domain] Image by Ilona Gr from Pixabay 4. Man profile [Public Domain] via Pixabay 5. Background [Public Domain] Image from PxHere

Told from the point of view of teenager Jon Hardacre, twin brother of Eden, this story is about how the twins use competitive swimming to deal with the grief of losing both their parents at the age of nine.

“I was so desperate to be a son and a brother and in turn a man.”

“We Were Not Men” by Campbell Mattinson
  • Glanceabook: “This is a heartfelt coming-of-age story. Although some of the disconnected dialogue (characters having parallel conversations) and the off-beat comments of their grandmother Bobbie can be disconcerting to the reader, this adds to the authenticity, reflecting real-life dialogue. I found the voice of Jon to be compelling, and this is what moved the story forward. Facts about real-life Australian champion swimmers are cleverly inserted into the narrative as anonymous letters of encouragement from a fan.”
  • Guardian: “We Were Not Men is a sympathetic story about the effort and bravery it takes to heal – one that might be better enjoyed out of the shadow of marketing.”
  • Queensland Reviewers Collective:We Were Not Men is not a novel which relies on dialogue to advance the narrative.  Much of what is actually spoken is fragmented as if the characters are unable or unwilling to fully articulate their thoughts or feelings.  Bobbie in particular tends to speak in epigraphs which do not always relate to what is occurring around her.”

Author: Campbell Mattinson


“Werner was a battered old engine of a bloke.”

“You change as you get older. You’re not just an older version of your younger self.”

“That feeling when the race is done and your hand is on the wall. When you’re knackered but you have another race soon. When the party swoops in to celebrate someone else; when analysis is at its harshest; when disappointment roars straight up out of the chlorine fog.”

“‘Do you have a bike?’ she asked. ‘Why?’ I replied. ‘I’m just asking,’ she said. ‘Just one for the Warmies,’ I said. ‘My brother has a girlfriend,’ she said. ‘It’s too small for me,’ I said. ‘I saw them at the back of the shop,’ she said. ‘Werner reckons we should do longer rides to build up our legs,’ I said. ‘Mum doesn’t know,’ she said.”

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