Lauren Aimee Curtis is a writer from Sydney. Her work has appeared in Catapult, The Atlas Review, The Lifted Brow, Sydney Review of Books, Fireflies, Australian Book Review, and elsewhere. In 2017, she was shortlisted for the Elizabeth Jolley Short Story Prize. She currently teaches at the University of Technology Sydney where she is completing a PhD on the works of Renata Adler and Elizabeth Hardwick. Her debut novel, DOLORES, was published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson in July 2019.
Praise for DOLORES (2019):
‘Dolores reads the way a first novel should: short, lyrical, intense, and with adventurous ambition.' Nell Zink
‘Dolores is a glowing, beating heart of a book; Curtis’ sentences manage to be both mysterious and precise, creating a potent atmosphere that resonates beyond its brevity.’ Megan Hunter
‘Rich, melodic and marked by a troubling sensuality, Dolores depicts the strange pleasures a young girl might take in her body, and the perils and liberations such pleasures hold.’ Sue Rainsford, author of Follow Me To Ground
'Enigmatic [...] Curtis writes in short, stark sentences. There’s great precision to her recounting of events and to her descriptions: convent clothes smell of “mothballs, stale soap and onions”; the nuns seem “to chew the soup as if it were a piece of meat”. There’s something rather cinematic about her arm’s length approach – Dolores is observational, not explanatory. This also provides images of deadpan, physical humour: Dolores breaking eggs on to the head of a bishop who puts his face up her skirt; a novice smashing a guitar over a holier-than-thou new arrival. “Madonna! the nuns whisper.” Short and mysterious, Dolores is a compelling, one-sitting read. I craved more – of Dolores herself, of how she really feels. But Curtis writes the close-up details of life in the convent with as much intensity as the burgeoning sexuality of a young girl, and the two elements chime in a strange harmony.' Holly Williams, Observer
'The book moves between scenes from [Dolores's] life in the convent and the events that led her there, and Curtis skilfully balances both its revelations and ambiguity to aid momentum. [...] We know the convent is in the hills somewhere in Europe, but never know where, exactly. All this, rather than being frustrating, gives the story an otherworldly sheen, and the book is so well written that it makes the need for solid details feel frivolous. [...] What Dolores doesn’t hold back on is the grotesqueness of everyday life for the women at the convent. The nuns have green-yellow gunk in their eyes and bad breath. One has a large tooth that hangs out of her mouth. They smell of sweat. Another has ‘a large, round, and translucent face, like the moon’. Even the pretty one bites her nails. Focussing on these details has the possibility of slipping into cruelty, but Curtis resists doing so. By keeping the narrative tight, she’s able to put care into each sentence and this pays off with a kind of warmness that encompasses the characters in its glow. Curtis is certainly a new Australian voice to pay attention to and she is already receiving attention from overseas readers; a part of Dolores has already appeared in Granta. If you are looking for an Australian novel that embraces its uniqueness, then Dolores can’t be recommended enough.' Chris Somerville, Readings
'A succinct, intense story about a young girl who turns up at a convent and is taken in by the nuns. This atmospheric debut is a deliciously satisfying read about a girl at a critical juncture in her life.' Book Riot
'This skilfully written and disquieting novella takes a character from contemporary life, gives her a classic female problem, and places her in an almost timeless setting, and the restult is a hypnotic and powerfully affecting read.' Sydney Morning Herald, 'Pick of the Week'
Weidenfeld & Nicolson
On a hot day in late June, a young girl kneels outside a convent, then falls on her face. When the nuns take her in, they name her Dolores.
Dolores adjusts to the rhythm of her new life - to the nuns with wild hairs curling from their chins, the soup chewed as if it were meat, the bells that ring throughout the day.
But in the dark, private theatre of her mind are memories - of love motels lit by neon red hearts, discos in abandoned hospitals and a boy called Angelo.
And inside her, a baby is growing.