August 04

Too Much Lip by Melissa Lucashenko

Given this book has a long list of nominations and awards already (most recently named  winner of the Miles Franklin)  my review could be a short and emphatic  three words  – ‘GRAB THIS PRONTO ‘.

But you know me, I can’t stop there. I want, actually I neeeeed to say more because this book had a profound effect on me.

If you have read it and agree with the back of the book which says it is darkly hilarious, message me will you because I want to know which bits.  I didn’t laugh, but I did cry in parts.  In all honesty, I could have wailed through a lot of it sitting here in my large lounge of white privilege.

It is a tricky book to sum up because you are both confronted and afronted with each page. This is a world that feels a million miles away while at the same time – as an Australian – it  feel like it’s just next door.   This story is a part of us all.  I was shaken and stirred and felt what I truly needed at the end of it was to sit outside, on the grass, body to earth, just to ground myself….just like these characters taught me to do I guess.

I read a response to the book from the author and I wanted to share it.  I know it is possibly lazy because I am choosing to share this and not a synopsis of the story.  Like I said in the beginning my simple, overwhelming message is ‘grab this pronto’ and I am sticking to it.  But these words from Melissa Lucashenko crack open the story and I simply can’t get enough of anything she has to say.

….This novel is a kind of foray into the harder edges of Aboriginal life in country NSW, with a hillbilly sensibility. I wanted to write about the grassroots mob who are constantly living on the edge of things: the law, racist violence, various kinds of family implosions. I really strongly wanted to pen a high-energy antidote to the deathly depression which it’s easy for us to slide into in this racist, heterosexist country. You know I’ve knocked around a lot with women (and men, including my brothers) who’ve done jail time, and I wanted to portray those women’s defiance… It’s a very gritty novel, and violent, but I like to think it’s pretty damn funny too… No doubt some readers will find it shocking, but then I’m not writing to make people feel warm and comfortable…

And that is my and Melissa’s two cents worth.