Book Review: The Abyssinian Mountain Lion & other stories, by David McDougall

Available in selected bookshops nationwide.

Is there such a thing as an Abyssinian Mountain lion? cv_the_abyssinian_mountain_lion

If you read the first story in this collection of short stories by New Zealand author David McDougall he will convince you they were once in the Wellington Zoo.

I like a book of short stories, especially over the summer, it is good to pick up when you have a spare moment and you can pick and choose which to read, depending what is happening in your day. The Abyssinian Mountain Lion, a collection of nineteen stories, is pure fiction, but you get the feeling the author has written them based on real characters, people he has encountered during his life.

The book is easy to read with a good size print and with the stories about eight to ten pages long you, are soon at the end of the 207 pages. Although there are some references to foreign places, the reader is left in no doubt the author’s origin is New Zealand with his use of words and phrases such as ‘another kiwi joker’ as well as references to places such as Lambton Quay.

David McDougall spent twenty-five years in a Wellington business before training as a social worker and family therapist and working with children in the mental health field, the Outward Bound Trust and Family Court. He lives in Eastbourne with his wife Judith, has four adult children and eleven grandchildren. It is this background which has given David the skill to write such a variety of stories which will appeal to anyone who enjoys a good kiwi yarn.

There is mystery, love, humour and history as well as “A Grey Area”:
“Mid-winter and everything’s grey; different layers and shades of grey. The lake’s a steely grey; frequent squalls driven by a mean sou’west wind are corrugating the surface. I can just make out the distant mountains. They’ll be completely covered in snow at the time of the year, but with the sun almost behind cloud, they tend to look grey.”

The endings of some of the stories are up in the air, making me think the author may carry on the story in another book or even develop it into a longer novel.

The cover design by John McDougall, who I presume is a family member, is quite unique and eye-catching, and it serves as a very fitting introduction to the first story, which is also the title of the book.

Reviewed by Lesley McIntosh

The Abyssinian Mountain Lion & other stories
By David McDougall.
Published by Makaro Press
ISBN 9780994106995

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