Love Objects by Emily Maguire and The Shape of Sound by Fiona Murphy
This month I’ve been reading some great Australian authors, just in time for #AussieApril (a prompt inspired by and celebrated across the book-reading internet).
Love Objects, the sixth book from Emily Maguire, previously shortlisted for the Miles Franklin Award and the Stella Prize, is an early contender for one of my favourite books this year – it gripped me by the heart and didn’t let go. It follows 40-something year old Nic, who has been secretly hoarding for years, her niece Lena, first in the family to attend university and rocked by the inequalities she experiences there, and her nephew Will, recently released from jail, out of yet another job and unceremoniously dumped.
The three have to band together when Nic has a bad fall in her house and the doors are thrown wide open. What falls out are secrets, traumas, deep emotions and the intense love of family. This is a book about class, privilege, misogyny, dignity and healing: if you like the writing of Sofie Laguna or Craig Silvey, this one is for you. You can read the opening chapter here.
Fiona Murphy discovered in mid-childhood that her left ear was completely deaf, but spent another two frustrating, painful and alienating decades trying to hide her deafness from the judgement (both anticipated and experienced) of others. The Shape of Sound documents her hard-fought path towards acceptance of her “shadow”, as she describes her deaf side, and her discovery of Deaf Gain and Auslan, flipping the narrative to a more positive outlook. It also serves to enlighten hearing folk about the near-constant obstacles placed in the way of the Deaf community and their continuing lower-status in a world that is explicitly geared towards those with good hearing. Murphy’s skill lies in sharing her experience as a Deaf person, both as a physiotherapist and as a patient, and in doing so, she brings a nuanced and compassionate perspective to the illustrious genre of medical memoirs.
The Hearing Trumpet by Leonora Carrington
I’ve been delighting in the bizarre and amusing world of 92-year-old Marian, in The Hearing Trumpet, by Surrealist artist Leonora Carrington. Early on in the book Marian, who is deaf and bearded, is given an ornate trumpet by her mischievous friend Carmella. Carmella tells her the trumpet is to assist her to secretly hear conversations without people knowing. The first thing she hears is that her family are plotting to take her to an ‘institution’. Marian is moved to a place that seems to pose as an aged care facility but seems more like a New Age cult that is profiting the awful director, Mr Gambit.
Marian’s voice is at once wise and childlike and very humorous in her observations of human behaviour. When the elderly women plot to take over the facility, this story becomes a critique of how older people are perceived and treated later in life. It is a wonderful surreal revenge story! Wise and entertaining.
The Death of Noah Glass by Gail Jones
I’m approximately one third into reading this book… a recommendation from a colleague. It’s taken off slowly – but events are not changing! The book is about many facets of life – parents and their children… the flaws that we often bring to our parenting, as our parents did, and how we create relationships with our children based on how we view our flaws – our determination to be free of them, or accept them or deflect them. Complex love.
It’s also about the power of art – its ability to transform ones world and give purpose and to inspire oneself and one’s children. The book describes the process of grief and loss… the suspension of time and numbing of the senses… then there is the glimpse of happiness appearing in the form of chance encounters.