The Auctioneer by Joan Samson


I like to read seasonally, and I found this recommended on a ‘books to read for Halloween’ list, and while the premise of a story about a guy slowly auctioning off a town didn’t seem particularly scary, I was intrigued.

The story is told mainly from the perspective of the Moore’s, an old, proud, farming family who have lived off their slice of land for generations. Until one day, auctioneer Perly Dunsmore shows up in their small hometown, and after being talked up to everybody by the town’s only cop, he begins requesting donations of old tat from residents, to auction off to the city-folk who happily travel in droves to buy a touch of the country aesthetic for their own homes, in order help to develop the town. All is well to begin with (as all always is), but as the Moore’s and others begin to tire of the Auctioneer’s more persistent requests for donations, especially when they are expected to give up much more than old junk, they find that ‘no’ will not be taken for an answer.

It’s hard to say much more without giving away the plots more sinister aspects, but suffice it to say that things get pretty dark, pretty quick. There is a strong message to this story, about people’s unwillingness to stand up if it means standing out, and our disinterest in asking questions about the cost of our lifestyles as long as we aren’t the ones paying the price.

I ready enjoyed the story, although I struggled to care about the characters, but perhaps I wasn’t meant to. After all it’s tough to empathise with people who do nothing to prevent their own obvious doom, and I suppose that why there are so many instances in life where the majority turn a blind eye to the suffering of the minority if their downfall appears to be self inflicted, even if their circumstances are such that they could do nothing to avoid it.



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