In 2019 Roy, a retired librarian living alone in dwindling bushland on the outskirts of Melbourne, is lured out of his shell by his neighbours, two migrant Chinese families who run a motel and restaurant. With other neighbours and guests, they get together regularly for Friday Chinese banquets, retiring for after-dinner ghost stories to an old Presbyterian church among the gums behind the restaurant – ‘The Temple of Ordinary Terrors’.
He records the passage of the year in a journal that includes notes from his intercultural story-telling group. He finds that mortals, and even some part-human, part-goblin beings, like the Japanese tengu, inhabit a zone somewhere between the terrors of the supernatural world, depicted in literature and art, and the ‘ordinary’ terrors of the natural, ‘real’ world.
In the process Roy finds a special friend and ultimately exorcises the ghost of his own loneliness, which he has been inclined to idealise as solitude.
Trevor Hay is the author of six novels, two biographical works, a study of Chinese theatre and numerous short stories. He is a collector of rare and antiquarian books and a scholar of comparative literature and folklore. He lives in Montmorency, in Melbourne’s north-east. His last four novels are A Dream of Red Dragonflies (Arcadia/Tantanoola, 2016), Letters from a Floating Life (Arcadia/Tantanoola, 2017), The Secret of the Lunar Rainbow (Arcadia/Tantanoola, 2018) and Redgrave’s Ghost (Arcadia/Tantanoola, 2019).