DEAR Caroline, I think you’re a swell girl. A brilliant writer. A gifted storyteller. But I don’t think I can see you anymore. I know, I know, I’ve only read two of your seven (?) books and I’m sure your other books hold much promise too… but I just *sob* can’t.
It’s not you, it’s me.
You see, I’m what people might call a little ray of fucking sunshine. I’m smiley and cheerful for the best part. But when I read your books… I get a little mad at the world.
Your stories are real life. With all the sugar-coated goodness sucked off.
Matilda is Missing had me messed up for weeks!
Your fictional worlds are faultless in ‘high definition’ details. Your plots are edge of the seat stuff. And somehow you manage to impart a bigger picture of our society without any actual lecture.
I finished reading No Place Like Home and planned to take a nap afterwards … but I can’t sleep because I’d like to slap Roger Callaghan. I’d like to take a pipe bomb and drop it at his feet, to be honest. See what I mean? No sunny sunshine in that thought!
In fact I don’t think I’ve hated a person this much since I read Z For Zachariah. I wrote that character a letter in grade eight or nine. I even used the ‘f’ word AND let my teacher read it. She didn’t mind. I think she hated him as much as I did.
But I digress… what’s worse than Mr Callaghan himself is the fact that life is a breeze for him. While we are so busy trying to understand – or to judge, or to be simply fearful of – people that are different to us, we can’t see that we ought to be more wary of this privileged white man and what he represents (profit before people) than of any well-meaning but perhaps confused immigrant.
Certainly it pains me that his life is so lavish and imbued with success despite his abhorrent narcissism. That our society – in magazines (*cough… sorry, associate editor. I’m sure your mag is the exception to the rule) and television – parades the tawdriness of certain C-grade celebrities and further inflates their ugly egos.
This is a story that presents Australians with all our various racist attitudes. By the end of it, I wasn’t convinced that we, as a nation, were any better than those Africans who would butcher albino children. It’s the same fear of the unknown, we just don’t wield machetes quite as often.
So yes, your book may do many amazing things to get readers questioning what really motivates the ongoing non-issue of asylum seekers… but it’s just so sad.
I don’t think I’ll ever get the image of that mother climbing up her dying child’s body. Ever.
It’s clever how your story came from an ex-priest, though. Maybe that’s your story, your perspective, getting its own voice. Authors are gods in fiction and in so creating such a lovely boy – the only one brave enough to befriend a mutilated stranger – and then killing him off, you must have been glad for the chance to say ‘there is no answer here’. No higher plan.
Because, in my experience, killing a fictional character can be very painful.
In closing, I love you but I can’t read another story where the victims are innocent, especially when those innocent victims are children.
Don’t be sad. Maybe one day, I’ll be brave enough to pick up The Ghost Child. But till then, I’m sure you’ll find happier reviews from your countless admirers.
Yours in sunshine and lollipops,