Laminex and Mirrors


Cate Kennedy

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Laminex and Mirrors Study Guide

Welcome to the LitCharts study guide on Cate Kennedy's Laminex and Mirrors. Created by the original team behind SparkNotes, LitCharts are the world's best literature guides.

Brief Biography of Cate Kennedy

Cate Kennedy was born in England, where her father was stationed through the Air Force, but grew up living in several different states in Australia. As a young adult, she attended the University of Canberra and the Australian National University. After college, she had jobs in various career fields, but notably taught creative writing and served as a community arts worker in Victoria, Australia. In her 30s, Kennedy moved to Mexico for two years to teach literacy in underserved communities through an Australian volunteer organization. She also worked as a freelance writer and for the Australian Customs Service, an experience which would later inspire her short story “Habit.” Though Kennedy is primarily known for her short stories, she wrote nonfiction and poetry throughout her young adulthood. In 2002, she won the Vincent Buckley Poetry Prize, a literary award that provided her with the opportunity to teach in Ireland. Today, Kennedy lives in a remote region of northern Australia, and continues to write, publish, and participate in speaking engagements.
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Historical Context of Laminex and Mirrors

The readers are never provided with specific information about the time period in which “Laminex and Mirrors” is set, but the presence of modern technology and culture suggests that the story is set sometime in the late 20th or early 21st century. There are also indications in the narrative that Mr. Moreton, the elderly veteran who befriends the narrator, served in the military during World War II. Perhaps the most significant historical marker in the short story is Mr. Moreton’s statement that he marched in the previous year on Anzac Day. Anzac (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps) Day is a holiday held on April 25th of each year in Australia and New Zealand. The holiday, which began in 1916, initially commemorated the deaths of over 8,000 Australians and New Zealanders in their unsuccessful campaign in Gallipoli against the Ottoman Turks during World War I. However, Australians and New Zealanders soon began to use Anzac Day to commemorate all individuals who passed away while serving in the military, and continue to observe the holiday in the same way today.

Other Books Related to Laminex and Mirrors

Like a House on Fire, Kennedy’s 2012 collection which contains “Laminex and Mirrors,” comes from the rich tradition of the realist short story. Though the roots of this popular English-language literary form can most easily be found in the work of Herman Melville and Edgar Allan Poe—and certainly later, in the work of Ernest Hemingway, Flannery O’Connor, and Raymond Carver—Kennedy’s work has the most in common with her present-day contemporaries. Though these fiction writers have different national backgrounds and take up different subject matter, they are all known for constructing relatively simple narratives laden with observations about culture, politics, and interpersonal relationships; they are also known for writing in an accessible style devoid of intricate or abstract language. Some of the most well-known contemporary short story collections whose approach could be compared to Cate Kennedy’s in Like a House on Fire are Denis Johnson’s Jesus’ Son (1992), George Saunders’ Pastoralia (2000), In Persuasion Nation (2006), and Alice Munro’s No Love Lost (2003) and Too Much Happiness (2009).
Key Facts about Laminex and Mirrors
  • Full Title: “Laminex and Mirrors”
  • When Published: 2012
  • Literary Period: Contemporary
  • Genre: Literary realism
  • Setting: Australia
  • Climax: The narrator sneaks Mr. Moreton out of his hospital room.
  • Antagonist: The matron
  • Point of View: First-person limited

Extra Credit for Laminex and Mirrors

Write What You Know. Cate Kennedy has certainly established a successful career as an author, but she has also reported working as a tutor, waitress, life model, kitchenhand, and theater director. Many of these jobs provided her with source material for both her fiction and nonfiction writing.

Green Acres. After frequently moving across states and countries throughout her life, Cate Kennedy settled on a quiet farm in Victoria, Australia, in the early 2000s. In an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Kennedy explained the way in which her move has allowed her to experience and learn about the unique “voice” of rural Australia.