By Karen Valby
Updated July 23, 2007 at 04:00 AM EDT

Acclaimed Australian writer David Malouf was a stranger to me. What a delight, then, to bathe in The Complete Stories, an impressive volume that includes a bunch of fresh, previously unpublished here, and divinely executed stories. The tales travel the rugged swath of Australia, and the characters vary wildly, from a dreamy mine worker at his sister-in-law’s funeral to an aging broad marooned at a tourist trap. It may seem like a heavy load for the beach, but it reads like an indulgence, as when Malouf describes a TV in a rural home that ”dominated the front room like a child overexcited by the power to say at last the once unsayable.” Glorious stuff. A