The World According to Renee

Views, Reviews, Randoms and More…

Lefties

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Being left handed in this right-handed world sure must be difficult. In the past, lefties were forced to use their right hand. There are now a range of gadgets designed to make left handed experience better, more productive and included as part of society instead of bullied and excluded.

The word ‘sinister’ is from Latin sinistra, which means left.The word ‘left’ is from lyft, which means weak. Many phrases mention left as being awkward or unacceptable; consider having “two left feet”.

There are left-handed people in the Bible, many of whom are from Benjamin’s tribe. The bible speaks about left handed people in unflattering ways. Some have construed these passages are meaning left is bad, or rather, right handedness is natural. On Judgement Day, righteous sheep will sit to God’s right, while the evil goats will be on the left. Jesus himself is exalted to the right side; many paintings feature fallen angels on God’s left. Those who fall from God’s favour are sent to the left, as described in Matthew 25: 32-33.

Left-handed people have been forced to assimilate into a right-handed world. When writing, they smudge ink and can’t start at the margin because there’s usually binding there. Scissors are rather annoying to use, so someone invented left-handed scissors. Not to mention computer mice, machinery and musical instruments.

In many cultures, the right hand is used for eating and social interactions such as shaking hands while the left is used for hygiene, i.e. wiping one’s butt.

Being left-handed isn’t a lifestyle choice. When did you decide to be right-handed? Yet many left handers wish they weren’t lefties. It’s tough to be a lefty in a right world.

Now, apply everything I just said to LGBTI people. Your arguments about why same sex couples shouldn’t be allowed to have equal rights suddenly seem rather stupid. Being straight is no more natural than being LGBTI.  It’s not a lifestyle choice. How would you feel if the government told you and your love that you weren’t allowed to be married? You’re not afforded the same rights as others based on whom you love. You don’t matter because you’re a minority.

Vote yes.

 

August 13, 2017 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | , | Leave a comment

Grief

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Image by grief.org.au

Grief sucks. It’s a natural response to loss, most often triggered by death of a loved one (person or pet).

I’ve had a project in mind for quite some time. Several years ago, a friend lost her child to cancer and something she said at the time has stuck with me: I just wish people would say something. By keeping silent, she felt people were not validating her loss.

Although she has a lot of friends on and offline, she felt few of them reached out to her to offer condolences. People just don’t know what to say, especially when the loss is too horrible to comprehend.

Since then, I’ve wanted to write a book about dealing with grieving people. There’s tons of information, books, and websites about how to deal with grief, but not about what to say to grieving people. Grief is something that happens to all of us – why is it so hard to find something to say? Obviously, nothing is going to make the grief suddenly go away, but people generally find comfort in others.

To get started on this project, I’ve devised a survey. It’s a series of questions about events that trigger grief and how you felt when people did or didn’t respond. The survey takes around 20 minutes depending on the detail of your answers: I’m ever so grateful for as much detail as possible. There’s no identifying information, unless you’ve already told me the circumstances of the tragedy. Otherwise, I have no idea who wrote what. Individual answers may be included in the book.

If you’d like to participate, please follow the link: https://surveyhero.com/c/8bf2609.

Much love to you, and I am sorry for your loss.

 

 

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June 21, 2017 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | , , , , , | Leave a comment

After: A Conversation

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This post contains mentions of suicide and depression. If this post triggers similar thoughts in you, please seek professional help immediately.

In October 2015, Nikki Gemmell’s mother Elayn self-euthanised.

What follows is a raw look at Elayn’s life, death and their mother-daughter relationship. Nikki and Elayn’s relationship was strained. Elayn wanted a perfect daughter: smart, pretty, popular, famous. Nikki was berated for not being those things and this formed the narrative of her life. But, ELayn was still hr mother and deeply loved. When she committed suicide, Nikki and her brother were called upon to identify the body and answer the police questions surrounding the death. Nikki couldn’t call it suicide, she preferred “self-euthanasia”.

This book forced me to examine my own relationship with my mother but also the relationship with my daughter. Although my daughter is only two, am I being the mother I want to be and the mother she needs me to be? There is no chance I’m ever going to tell her she’s ugly, or I wish her friend was my daughter instead of her, or she needs to earn my love. My own mother never told me any of those things either; in fact my mum always told me how proud she is of me.

Nikki refers to the Japanese practice of kintsugi, which is the repair of ceramics with a fine gold paste to create a new history of the object instead of disguising the repair. Kintsugi is a metaphor for their relationship, creating something different and unique rather than disguising a repair. It’s a beautiful background for something so heartbreaking.

Elayn suffered depression after foot surgery a year prior to her death. She cried out for help yet also pushed it away, believing herself to be a burden on her adult children. Nikki’s inbox was full of emails asking for help with shopping or medical appointments, with an outbox full of “Sorry mum, too busy”. It’s not a reflection of tension within the mother-daughter symbiosis, it’s a reflection of a mum’s busy life. Nikki has four kids who have a full calendar of after school and weekend activities.

I’ve written before that toddlers are quite difficult people. She does drive me crazy because I have little patience, particularly for toddlers who haven’t had a nap and draw on my bedsheets with markers or spit in my Milo. It’s these moments which draw out my cranky side and I’m only slightly less than perfect in my parenting. It’s probably not the moment she will remember, hopefully those are negated by trips to the park or library, playing trains or animals on the floor of her room, or the endless readings from her favourite books. I do hope that one day far into the future, she’s not writing painful memories in her own best-selling book about the fractured relationship with her mother.

Inspired by the book, last week I asked my mum about her plans for her death. Funeral, songs, friends. It’s a conversation people avoid yet everyone will go through. Funerals are for the living. They are a celebration of one’s life and should reflect the good parts of life. For Elayn’s funeral, Nikki and her siblings draped Elayn’s extensive collection of scarves over each pew with an invitation for guests to take them home to remember Elayn. In my mum’s case, perhaps I’d be leaving out her extensive DVD collection?

This started as a review of After, but it is impossible to critique a personal recollection of one’s grief. Nikki’s writing is deeply personal. She’s a writer’s writer so you may need a dictionary nearby. She examines her mother as her mother, as a mother herself, as a daughter and as a person. Sometimes we forget our mums are people too, with their own lives and a whole life before we were even born.

It’s a recommended read, but it is harrowing in parts. Her own story forces you to examine your own relationships for better or worse. There is so much to take away from her story and weave into your own.

June 5, 2017 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | , , , , | Leave a comment

Hey there, Judgey McJudgerson

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Recently, I watched You Can’t Ask That‘s episode about facial difference. As a customer service person with a lifetime in retail and other face-to-face roles, I’ve come across quite a few people with facial differences. I’ve always bitten my tongue although I’m dying to ask a bunch of questions!

I admit I stare because they are different. I am fascinated by different people. I am fascinated with people who aren’t me, because I’m pretty boring. I’m interested in why and how people are the way they are. How did you get that difference? What treatments do you have? How is life different for you than it is for me?

The show fascinates me. I am someone who wants to ask inappropriate questions, because it’s a genuine fascination with extraordinary people. It’s not because I’m silently laughing at them. It’s not because I want to highlight differences. I’m not judging them on looks. I just think they are people who are more interesting than I am.

Judging people in society is a worldwide pastime. On one hand, there’s a movement about loving all shapes and sizes and perceived differences. That goes out the window on red carpets, where often the same movement pounces on celebrities to judge whether a dress is an appropriate fit for someone’s body type.

Where once upon a time, these comments would safely reside within one’s home or a casual chat with friends, social media has created an anonymous place where these comments are immediately posted for criticism and others can join the vitriolic taunts. News agencies pick up the “story” and run click-baiting headlines, encouraging others to join the “conversation” to spread the hatred.

Something that struck a chord with me about the facial differences is their attitude. One of the questions was, “Do you think you’re ugly?” Everyone said no, but they had been subject to taunts, unkind remarks and sarcastic comments because of their appearance. What is wrong with people who think saying horrible things is OK?

Years ago when I was still at school, a man came to talk to us. He was in a wheelchair. I can’t remember why, but it was an accident i.e. he wasn’t born disabled. I remember one thing he said: “If you want to know how someone ends up in a wheelchair, ask them. Don’t stare and point, just ask.”

Still, I think it’s largely inappropriate for me to ask strangers about why they are the way they are. I’m guilty of asking about seemingly minor inflictions such as broken arm, although a friend who regularly has her arm in a sling says she’s really not cool with strangers asking why.

I totally understand that. It’s akin to someone touching your pregnant belly, an invasion of your personal space even if it is just a question. I like to think I am including people in my life instead of pretending something doesn’t exist.

Please don’t be offended if I ask you an inappropriate question. It’s just that I think you’re really interesting. And awareness of differences is the first step towards an inclusive society.

May 4, 2017 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | , , , , , | Leave a comment

13 Reasons Why: A Conversation

This post contains talk of suicide, violence, bullying and spoilers.

If this post triggers horrible feelings and thoughts, please seek help immediately.

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If you’ve been living in a cave for the past month or so, here’s a brief synopsis of 13 Reasons Why: Hannah Baker has killed herself, but has left behind a series of cassette tapes explaining her decision. The tapes feature people at her school.

Australia’s leading mental health organisation for young people, Headspace, has spoken about their concerns that the show, particularly the final episode, may be harmful to vulnerable persons.

I am not going to discuss the depiction of suicide. Neither am I going to comment on some reviews saying her reasons were “weak”. Mental illness shares common characteristics but is different for everyone: reasons are reasons. I am an adult and I found the final three episodes very difficult to watch.

What I am eager to talk about is the narrative and general thoughts about the series. I’ve not yet read the book, although it is a New York Times bestseller, garnering even more popularity thanks to the Netflix series.

Clay Jensen is a likeable young man who discovers Hannah’s tapes left on his doorstep. He starts listening, wondering why his friend killed herself and why he was sent these tapes. Spoiler: he’s number 11.

Hannah was the new girl at her high school. Thus begins her tragic tale of high school bullying and violence.

The viewer is led through Hannah’s final months, from her disastrous dates with popular boys to ruined friendships and rape. Her story is interwoven with that of the aftermath of her death. The two scenarios are generally easy to tell apart; Hannah’s scenes are generally brighter and warmer tones while the aftermath is colder and greyer. And, thanks to Clay’s bike accidents, he has a wound on his forehead which further helps orient the viewer.

I really liked how the narrative was presented. The subject of each tape and the circumstances were revealed in due course without the viewer needing to guess or think ahead. At one point I wondered if the finale was a school shooting, which seemed to be confirmed when Tyler packed some guns into a case. Thankfully, I was wrong. (I wonder what the media would have said about that?)

So, Hannah had some pretty shitty “friends” and people she hung out with. She wasn’t really excluded from anything, still invited to parties and the boys still thought she was hot (thanks to Alex’s list. no doubt). As Skye said. lots of people in high school deal with the same shit every day and get through it. Hannah’s ability to cope diminished with every new shit thrown at her.

High school culture sucks. I was bullied all the way through school and was sent to the school counselor who gave me the bullshit advice, “treat your bullies like trees.” What? “You know they’re there, but ignore them.” I told him to stick his job where the sun doesn’t shine, and stormed out of his office, slamming the door behind me. I got detention for that. He kept his job.

So we get to Hannah’s final tape, where she’s recorded her conversation with her own school counselor. Did he do anything wrong? Wellllllll, who can say? Hannah went home and killed herself, but could he have stopped her? By that point it seemed Hannah had made up her mind, having taken razors from her parents’ pharmacy. It’s a series of What If…? pondered by each character, with no answers. Sure, if Justin wasn’t a dick and Bryce didn’t rape her and Clay told her he loved her, things might have been different. The point is, her reasons snowballed, with each experience adding to her growing insecurities and paranoia.

Clay’s own paranoia threatens to overtake the series. He was on a mission to drag down every one of Hannah’s abusers which could have derailed the series but was brought back. I understand his need for justice, and in the end it worked well for him to have waited as well as taking the series out of a revenge hunt to bring it back to Hannah’s story.

Let’s talk about the last three episodes. These are easily the best of the series. Secrets which appear in the first page of the novel (which is as far as I allowed myself before I finished the show) are revealed here. The viewer is drawn to Clay. He’s too sweet and kind to be mentioned in the tapes yet Hannah admits it was her own mind which brought about their downfall. Clay is the antithesis to the dickheads whom Hannah has previously had a crush on/dated. What on Earth could Clay have possibly done to earn a place as a reason for her death?

He loved her and she pushed him away, frightened by her own traumas of how other boys had treated her. Could he have prevented her death? Probably not. Had he stayed at the party, she would have walked away from him. He was caught in a no-win situation. In time, they probably would have repaired their relationship. Tony was just a bit dramatic when he told Clay he was the cause of Hannah killing herself.

Tony. What was his deal? His full friendship with Hannah was never really explored in the series. He was there while the police carried her body out of the house. He was trusted with the tapes, given instructions on what to do with the tapes if they weren’t passed on. In the end, he decides to give the tapes to her parents.

Can you imagine being a parent to a suicided child and listening to those tapes? Knowing what was happening to your child and absolutely powerless to do anything? I wonder how it would have affected the outcome of the civil suit. (I assume in reality, Lainie Jensen would have been dismissed from the case once her son was deposed, if not before.)

I believe the depictions of high school culture are realistic. High school sucks, and it’s so much worse now than when I was at school. Sure, I was bullied, but when I got home it stopped. With technology and social media, someone is bullied constantly, 24/7. It doesn’t ever stop. To me, the overarching message of this series is needing to change this culture. Bullying is never OK. Violence towards women is never OK, especially if they are drunk and unconscious. Covering up for your mates is not OK. I have a toddler now, but wonder what the world will be like when she’s in school. I pray that she has a trusted friend to talk to, or an adult that she feels comfortable talking to (no teenager would ever talk to their parents!) Teenage years are really tough. If only we could treat each other respectfully.

Edit: I’ve started reading the novel. Hannah overdoses on pills, which means the TV series deliberately changed the method to a more graphic representation. Whoa. I can’t even process this right now.

April 19, 2017 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | , , , | 1 Comment

Family

For some people, family is their tribe; it’s where they belong. For others, family are people who are physically and psychologically abusive. Some families are distant, some are close, some are families by name (and DNA) only.

My father’s family have always been close. There are nine siblings and twenty-something children between them. During my childhood, there were regular get-togethers, especially at Christmastime. I remember Christmases (or, more likely, Boxing Days) at my uncle’s house which were especially exciting because he had a pool. Long after my cousins had gone off to listen to music or watch a new video or play a computer game, I’d still be in the pool splashing around by myself.

Even now, my aunts and uncles still get together at least once a year, when they can. They’ve spread over the Eastern Seaboard now: I have an aunt who lives about three hours’ north of Brisbane and an uncle who lives in Hobart, but the majority still live in or around Sydney. (I’m now mentally trying to work out who lives where…)

My cousins are a different story. I have twenty-something cousins and trying to keep track of them all is quite a feat. All but three were able to attend my grandfather’s funeral last year. It’s always lovely to catch up with my cousins although I admit it’s through Facebook these days; trying to get us all in one place takes a lot of planning! I hope we’re all able to get together sometime in happier circumstances.

This past weekend, my aunts and uncles came together for their annual weekend on the NSW mid north coast. It was a lovely weekend, marking the first anniversary of my grandfather’s death. For the past few years, my grandfather had made the trip along with his children and much laughter was had. This year was only slightly sombre as we remembered our patriarch. My sister and I were the only grandchildren who went, but we’re both glad we did. It’s always lovely to see our family and catch up. There are no dark secrets in the family (that I know about, anyway….) and many memories.

One of my uncles and his son put together a slide show of Grandad’s life, which we watched over the weekend. Because so many photos were paused and memories discussed, it lasted well over two hours. I loved hearing those memories: from a camping trip in the Blue Mountains to a particular panel van to a game of ‘Which Grandchild is That?” In every photo, my grandfather is smiling; it’s how I remember him.

After the slides, another uncle showed some footage taken the last time Grandad was able to come. He spoke about his proposal to my grandmother. Yes, aunts and uncles, I saw you shed a few tears while watching it.

I am lucky. I’m lucky to have a family who are good people. I’m lucky to be able to attend a weekend like this and share memories. I’m lucky to have a family who still make time to see each other and connect. I’m lucky to have aunts and uncles who are so willing to share.

Thanks to everyone for a weekend not hastily forgotten.

March 9, 2017 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | | Leave a comment

What 5 years without caffeine has taught me

About ten years ago, I was diagnosed with PMDD: Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder. It means that every month before a period, I experience a full depressive episode, sometimes with suicidal thoughts. It was debilitating. As soon as my period started, the world became bright and sunny again.

Five years ago, I read several studies linking caffeine to depression and anxiety. My GP had also advised I shouldn’t have caffeine, so I gave it a try. I’ve never been a coffee drinker but I did drink a lot of Coke Zero and energy drinks. I already suspected I was affected by caffeine as I’d get shaky and jittery after an energy drink. Luckily, Pepsi has a delicious caffeine-free version with that same cola taste I loved, so the transition wasn’t too hard.

Where am I now? Mostly symptom free. There are still some months where I am a bit mental, but nothing compared to what I used to suffer. Sometimes I forget what I went through. I’ve got diaries and Facebook entries to remind me how bad I was.

What has caffeine taught me? I’ve learned it is a growing addiction. In the course of my job, I have met a lot of people who want extra shots of coffee to get that caffeine buzz. I met one man who was up to six shots per coffee because he was so used to caffeine that he needed that much to get the buzz.

I’ve learned caffeine is everywhere. I still eat some chocolate, but tend to avoid dark chocolate for the higher caffeine levels. Mountain Dew has added caffeine to its drinks. There are now lemonade brands with added caffeine. Some sauces/glazes have caffeine. “Superfruit” boosts in juices often contain caffeine.

People assume I’m weird. Well, maybe I am a bit weird… But usually they think I’m weird because I don’t have caffeine. I often work early mornings and during a yawn, I’ve been offered coffees and energy drinks to wake me up. No, thankyou. I’ve also learned people don’t want an explanation, so I just exaggerate and say caffeine makes me suicidal. No questions asked!

Caffeine causes a lot of problems. For nine months out of the last 5 years, I was pregnant. Caffeine is a no-no during pregnancy, but I actually researched why. It can cause miscarriage and bleeding problems. I wasn’t aware of any mood disorders directly attributed to caffeine during pregnancy though.

The most important thing is: I feel great. I’m not saying it’s a cure-all solution for everyone with depression, anxiety, PMDD or PMS, but it worked for me. And I’m a much happier person for it.

February 20, 2017 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | , , , , | 1 Comment

The World Without Caffeine

Technically it’s three years next week… but since it’s only just occurred to me (and baby is asleep, giving me a minute to write), I thought I’d write a bit about it. You can read the original blog post here.

I recently rediscovered my diary, which hadn’t been written in since August 2013. I was reading some old entries and January/February 2012 really sucked for me. I was desperately unhappy in my job and general life. I hated everything I did and everything I was. I doubted myself, I doubted my writing (even though I was scoring High Distinctions for me uni essays) and I was doubting my direction. Most entries were written during bouts of PMDD.

It’s been a whole three years since I gave up caffeine. In that time, I have not had a single episode of PMDD. I didn’t suffer any symptoms of depression during or after pregnancy (I was pregnant during most of 2014 and am now a first time mum to Cecily, 7 weeks old today). I’ve felt generally happy and well-balanced despite 2013 being a real shit of a year: my Opa, my aunt and a friend all died in 2013. What a massive difference to those entries written in Feb 2012! One entry dated Feb 7, 2012, reads “There is no greatness, only nothingness.” This ‘epiphany’ happened while I was watching a documentary about the Sun. Normally I am humbled and amazed by astronomy but that day, all I thought about was the futility of life.

Tough times.

Things are much brighter now, and have been for a while. I don’t have those thoughts of emptiness anymore. I don’t have days when I want to curl into a ball and cry. In short, I haven’t had a single depressive episode since February 17, 2012.

Giving up caffeine has saved my life.

Postscript: Last year I was enrolled in a unit for uni where I had to write a documentary. I chose the topic of the link between mental illness and caffeine. My tutor’s feedback was “(the topic) is scientifically highly unlikely” and “correlation does not equal causation”. Never mind the complete unprofessional and ignorant attitude, I presented her with a ton of research supporting this link. She backflipped, saying she never said those things (funnily enough, it was still clearly written on my proposal, right there in black and white and dutifully presented to the convener along with my complaint…). Since then, I have thoroughly researched this link and everything I’ve read supports a link between caffeine and symptoms of mental illness, particularly depression and anxiety. Anecdotally speaking, I have three friends diagnosed with depression and/or anxiety whose symptoms were also completely alleviated when they gave up caffeine. Unfortunately they all liked their morning coffees too much and couldn’t stick to being caffeine-free.

February 9, 2015 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | , , , , | Leave a comment

Fin

Yes boys and girls, I completed the epic task of 50,000 words in a NaNoWriMo month! (Plus the other essays and assorted writings I was doing during November…) My best day was Saturday, 24 November when I wrote a whopping 11,000 words in a day. It was all because I had taken the weekend off to attend a writer’s retreat on the beautiful Stradbroke Island in Queensland. I’m so glad I did! I met a bunch of awesome people, got very little sleep (thanks to some all-night singing) and absorbed much inspiration via osmosis from the lovely people around me. I will definitely do it again should the opportunity present itself.

I have withdrawn from uni for this semester though. I felt that my being away for 3 weeks in January 2013 (a quarter of the semester) would be of detriment and I wouldn’t be able to dedicate my best effort. So far, it’s been two weeks and I’m a bit lost. I have nothing to do… so I thought it would be a great time to start a new blog about watching an episode of The Simpsons every day until I have seen every episode. Follow the insanity here.

As for my NaNo novel, I really like the work I have done on it and plan to continue with that journey. Firstly, I need to finish it. Then comes the process of editing and eventually, I think I would like to self-publish on a platform such as iTunes and/or Google books etc. Just to be part of the process, ya know?

Thanks to everyone for putting up with me, especially to my boyfriend who basically didn’t see me at all for the last two weeks of November as I spent every waking minute writing or at work. A special thankyou to Bryce Courtenay, who passed away recently. Thankyou for the stories, for your dedication in getting a novel written every year and for sharing so much with us. You’re sadly missed already.

December 8, 2012 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Musings: Caroline Overington novels

Recently I read Matilda is Missing, a novel by Caroline Overington. I’ve also previously read I Came to Say Goodbye and I’ve just started Ghost Child. In the Reader’s Group questions for Matilda is Missing, it is asked why Barry is chosen as the narrator to tell Matilda’s story when he has nothing to do with the family or the case? It’s not only this novel which employs this particular form of narrative, Ms Overington’s other novels do the same; have other people tell the story.

I have my own theory about this. Ms Overington is a journalist. Journalists are supposed to remain disassociated from their subjects and present a broad and unbiased view. Perhaps this is the reason she chooses unrelated characters to narrate? In both I Came to Say Goodbye and Matilda is Missing, the story is told through the eyes of men in their 60s who are only vaguely related to the narrative they tell. Ghost Child is different; the narrative is presented through the eyes of several characters, none of whom are central to the story. It’s an interesting device because it keeps the story in perspective by allowing each character their own versions of the story. We all know the old adage There’s three sides to every story: your side, my side and the Truth. This novel really presents itself as showing a 3D view of the central story; a child has died. The narrators range from the sister of the child to a police officer on the scene, foster carer, doctor and others not directly related to the family. In this way, a broad view is formed of the central plot and each character brings their own bias, so the reader is left to decipher The Truth.

Using unrelated characters to tell another’s story also allows the reader to make their own judgments. I wrote earlier about The Sense of An Ending which leaves the reader wondering if the narrative is actually correct or if the novel is a game to trick the mind. The novels of Caroline Overington could be construed in the same way- is the plot being read what is actually happening or could it be the narrator is messing with our minds to garner sympathy for their plight?

The best way, in my opinion, to view these novels is to remember the journalism beginnings of the author. She’s used to writing from a perspective not of the subject but someone witnessing the event/s and reporting as a bystander. Either this habit is hard to break, or serves the purpose of continuing to present a different opinion from someone unrelated. Either way, I like the style of writing as it adds depth and a ‘humanness’ to the narrative.

When speaking of Caroline Overington’s novels, I also have to mention the names chosen for characters. Years ago, I read a How-To guide for writers. One of the Things You Must Never Do was to create characters with similar names, yet Ms Overington does this a lot. For example, Matilda is Missing has characters named Pat Harrison and Pam Harris, Garry and Barry. Ghost Child  has two children named Harley and Hayley. Now, while the reader isn’t confused by these characters (unless they are reading while very tired), it strikes me as odd. When asked via Twitter why this naming was important, Ms Overington replied, “Don’t you find life is like that sometimes?” Well, no, not in my experience. Giving similar names to characters can confuse the reader as well as look for hidden meaning and coincidences that simply aren’t there or require no thought- they just are. There’s nothing necessarily wrong with it; Stephen King often has the same name for different people in different novels. Maybe having similar names is a common thread between people who have no other similarities yet find themselves intertwined through no fault or cause of their own?

In any case, these novels are inherently about humans and the complexities of The System in which we live and operate under. Life can’t always be planned and Ms Overington’s novels show Aussies as we really are, warts and all. In the end, we’re all in the same boat.

November 14, 2011 Posted by | Thoughts & Reflections | Leave a comment