"'Granny dumping' has become a popular Christmas phenomenon. Kathleen sees it as only a matter of time before she too is a dumped granny. Between her son Brian - 'Brain' - and his straying wife, and her daughter Shamrock - Sham for short - and hubby the 'Big Developer', there is no longer a place for Kathleen. But Passing Downs Old People's Home is still not the place for women like Kathleen. She is not ready for that and they're not ready for her.
"Thea Astley's brilliant satire on old age shimmers with grief and irony. Our most important contemporary novelist, Thea Astley, is at her most wickedly funny and pertinent in Coda."
"witty provocative, dazzling" - Lucy Frost
"Astley is a wonderful writer; she cast a warm but knowing eye." - Elle
"Astley has a quicksilver prose style and a keen satirical eye." - Publishers Weekly
"...an ebullient wit and unflagging comic energy" - Helen Daniel, Age
"No summary can do justice to this small book whose writing is compressed, witty, aphoristic, and memorable." - Nancy Taylor
I'm losing my nouns, she admitted.
God knows she was losing other things as well. Hearing. Sight. Tenses. Moods. A grammarian's funeral! But the nouns worried her most, proper nouns especially - names of people and places. Proper and common. Oh yes, it was not all there. And it was those nouns from the present tense or the past perfect - yes, that! - she'd lost grips with. Try her out on a preterite or a pluperfect of forty, fifty years ago and everything flowed like syrup, filling each crevice of memory.
A funny thing about all this: she was starting to think of herself in the third person when she went back to where the nouns and the verbs all stayed in place in the sweetest logical sequence, as if she were some other. Which she was, the body replenishing its cell structure every seven years.
Was that me?
The wrapping's changed!
The me of me rattles on, nounless.
It had been a few bad months.
From the William Heinemann Australia hardback edition, 1994.
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Last modified: November 16, 2004.