Review: The Apology by Ross Watkins, UQP

Erich Mayer

The Apology is about thwarted homosexual desires, family problems, and the ease with which a reputation can be damaged.
Review: The Apology by Ross Watkins, UQP

The Apology published by University of Queensland Press.

Ross Watkins opens this psychological thriller with a teaser: 'When he thinks of The Apology he remembers the silkiness of cock skin sliding across his mouth'. It is deliberately left unclear who is apologising to whom, although one can guess for what. 

The Apology is about thwarted homosexual desires, family problems, and the ease with which a reputation can be damaged. The main characters are Adrian Pomeroy, his older brother by six years, Noel, and a maturing schoolboy, Alex Bowman.

Adrian teaches English in a private school in Sydney. One of his students, Alex, raises serious allegations against him. Noel works as a policeman in Perth and returns to Sydney to support his brother.

Each of these three has been damaged during childhood: Adrian, who was sexually abused; Noel, as a perpetrator of actions he regrets; and Alex, at the hands of an overbearing father. 

Apart from the prologue, each chapter is headed by the name of the individual from whose point of view the story is advanced. Each of these stories is narrated in close third person from the viewpoint of that character. This has the effect of luring the reader to identify with the person in question, adding tension to the disharmony between the main players. For example, in the chapter headed 'Glenda', the brothers' mother recalls that 'Noel was the worry. Not Adrian’, although it is not entirely clear at the time why she feels this way. Yet you sympathise with Glenda in her inability to figure out what is actually going on. In the chapter headed ‘Nguyet', we get the reaction of Adrian's Vietnamese wife to the calamity that is likely to engulf her husband. We also get her backstory, in which more of Adrian's character is also revealed. The chapters headed 'Alex' evoke the effect of school bullying on a sensitive boy and also deal with the influence of a father who Alex felt could not be entirely defined as 'a belt-wielding prick', although Watkins leaves room for readers to doubt the accuracy of that assessment.

The novel succeeds in keeping the present-day action moving briskly while more slowly revealing the backstories of the protagonists and the motivations that inform their actions. The words of the prologue are repeated towards the end, when all becomes clear. However the final dramatic scenes lack a little in credibility and Watkins's attempt to tie up all the loose ends before the last page is not totally successful. 

3 stars ★★★
The Apology
By Ross Watkins

Category: Fiction
Release Date: 30/07/2018
Pages: 248
AUD $ 29.95
ISBN: 978 0 7022 6019 3

About the author

Erich Mayer is a retired company director and former organic walnut farmer. He now edits the blog