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.
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
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