One of the Wattle Birds by Jessica Anderson

Another writer bites the dust, dead a few years and all but forgotten. Two reviews of this on GR.

I wonder if others were as irritated as was I by ALL THE BITS IN CAPS. The author was looking for a way to indicate a particular way of talking and although I have some sympathy for her chosen method, nonetheless IT DROVE ME CRAZY. Text in caps is aesthetically displeasing. Turning to a page and seeing them sporadically scattered through the text puts me in a bad mood before I’ve read a word.

Then, the protagonist is a 19 year old girl. Ugggh. You can trust me, I’ve been one, they aren’t worth writing about.

And yet, despite these obstacles to my reading pleasure and the grudging way I picked it up each sitting with it, despite the ending, it’s probably okay. I don’t know! I tried hard to be the girl – mother knows she will die while you are on the backpacking ‘trip of a lifetime’ the one that at least didn’t used to come twice, the one with no technology (pre internet story). No phone calls (expensive) your mother says, the sensible thing to say at the time, but she KNOWS SHE IS GOING TO DIE. So the girl, upon finding out what has happened, naturally sees it as something her mother did to her. WHY? WHY DID SHE DO THAT TO ME? DIE, PURPOSELY WHILE I WASN’T THERE?

In the same pre internet period I was in London, only communicating by letter to Australia on an extended stay. My mother almost died – not as in this story in a relatively controlled way where there was plenty of time to change her mind, beg her daughter to come back and share her death – but still, the decision had to be made about whether to tell me and nobody did. They decided that it wasn’t right to worry me, interrupt my trip, perhaps induce me to come back and it might be for nothing. Indeed, as it turned out it would have been for nothing. But if my mother had died, I wonder if I would have been as troublesome as Wattle Bird was, harrassing everybody over and over and over about WHY? Maybe I would have been just as angry and overwhelmed by it, unable to move on.

Of course, to make things worse, her mother, a single parent by choice, left a will which only let Cecily have the dosh if she gets married. Wow, what a thing to weigh upon a person. If you ask me, that’s worse than how she decided to die. Imagine how bad the daughter must have felt about that. A sort of denial of her life having been okay. My mother wished she’d done it different and is now trying to make sure I do too. I tried to get into those shoes to understand how that would feel.

And in the end, no truth, no revelation to explain any of this. It’s just people muddling along, one can’t even say right or wrong. And Cecily, always inclined to lie, starts hiding things in new ways from her partner, ways that signify that she also sees her own self as being something that must in part at least be secret. Much, I guess, like her mother. And I suppose we are left to understand this, that it is by acknowledging what she is, that she comes to terms with what her mother was too.

I’d love to know what other people think about this book. ARE YOU OUT THERE? TALK TO ME….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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