Johnny was as tough as old boots, so when he wasn’t in his usual spot one day, and I later learnt he’d been found dead in a local laneway, my head fell low.

The Rip by Mark Brandi.

The Rip by Mark Brandi. Credit:

I thought of Johnny while reading Mark Brandi’s second novel, The Rip, told through the eyes of Dani, a young homeless woman and drug addict who’s eking out a living on the gritty streets of Melbourne with her friend and protector, Anton, and her trusty dog, Sunny. Their lives take a turn for the worse when they move into a flat with a psychopath called Steve, who has a disturbing
hold on Anton.

Brandi’s first novel, the bestselling Wimmera, was named Best Debut at the 2018 Australian Indie Book Awards. If you have a son on the cusp of adolescence, trust me, read Wimmera. In the friendship between Fab and Ben, you’ll be rewarded with an insight into the early pubescent male mind that is near unsurpassed in modern Australian fiction.

The 42-year-old writer’s spare form of prose and empathy for those whom fiction often sidesteps mark him as one of our most distinctive emerging writers. I finished The Rip in just four nights.

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