"Have you ever wished that someone you loved would die? So that the record of all your crimes and failures would be obliterated?
"The big communal households of the seventies collapsed years ago. Lovers have died. Friends have quarrelled and parted forever. Children have grown up and gone out into the world.
"Can anything useful be salvaged from such a history? Janet retreats to her run-down house and labours at forgetting the past. Ray hides from it in the pages of his gold-edged book, and waits for his more worldly brother to reconnect him to life. But Maxine, urgent, batty, ecstatic about auras and angels, comes crashing on to the territory of their regrets. In her crazy innocence she bursts the barricade that separates dream from reality, and hacks a path for all of them, into the future.
"A stunning new book by Helen Garner."
Soon after the collapse of my last attempt at marriage, when it did not appear to matter much which city I was in, I passed through Sydney and called as always on my old friend Patrick, to tell him, among other things, that my Auntie Dot had died.
'Ah yes,' he said. 'The bottle blonde.'
'I thought you'd like to know,' I said, 'seeing you danced with her at my wedding.'
'And you were fond of her,' stated Patrick.
'Her hairdos,' I said, 'were Wagnerian.'
'Oh, come off it.'
'They were! She had all that hair piled up, and a big smiling mouth, and a great big beautiful bosom.'
'All the things you lack,' said Patrick, pulling out a chair for me. 'What did she die of?'
'The usual,' I said. 'Cancer.'
From the McPhee Gribble hardback edition, 1992.
This novel was shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award in 1993.
This page and its contents are copyright © 2002 by Perry Middlemiss, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.Return to Helen Garner page.
Last modified: April 30, 2002.