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Dark, sharp, blackly funny and powerful, this is memoir, wielded as weapon, with the tightly compressed energy of an explosive device.



'She has a poet's gift for language, a playwright's sense of drama and a stand-up comic's talent for timing. But perhaps most remarkable is the generosity of spirit with which she writes about family trauma. The book flows with kinetic energy, wit and wisdom. Upon reaching the last page, I found myself turning to the beginning and starting again, not wanting it to end.' New York Times

This is a memoir about a dysfunctional family, about a mother and her daughters. But make no mistake. This is like no mother-daughter relationship you know.

When Vicki Laveau-Harvie's elderly mother is hospitalised unexpectedly, Vicki and her sister travel to their parents' isolated ranch home in Alberta, Canada, to help their father. Estranged from their parents for many years, Vicki and her sister are horrified by what they discover on their arrival. For years, Vicki's mother has camouflaged her manic delusions and savage unpredictability, and over the decades she has managed to shut herself and her husband away from the outside world, systematically starving him and making him a virtual prisoner in his own home. Vicki and her sister have a lot to do, in very little time, to save their father. And at every step they have to contend with their mother, whose favourite phrase during their childhood was: 'I'll get you and you won't even know I'm doing it.'

A ferocious, sharp, darkly funny and wholly compelling memoir of families, the pain they can inflict and the legacy they leave, The Erratics has the tightly coiled, compressed energy of an explosive device - it will take your breath away.

Winner of the 2019 Stella Prize, winner of the 2018 Finch Memoir Prize, shortlisted for the 2019 NSW Premier's Literary Awards.

'If someone had told me this manuscript was by a young Margaret Attwood or Alice Munro, I wouldn't have been surprised. The bleak beauty of the Canadian landscape set against this wry memoir of a daughter's journey with her sister through their parents' decline into ill-health and dementia is an extraordinary read.' Candida Baker

'The Erratics grabbed me by the throat and never let go. Its sharp vinegary tone added a thrilling and bracing note to this portrayal of an extreme dysfunctional family. The writing has a visceral quality as well as a terrific sense of timing, irony and place - an unfamiliar and remote location far removed from Australia, but the author's tug back to Australia from this cold, inhospitable setting adds another dimension of contrast. There is a universality to the story, of ageing parents and conflicted children grappling with uncomfortable responsibilities. I loved it.' Caroline Baum, author, Only

 

Details

ISBN: 9781460758250
Audience: General
Format: Paperback
Publication Date: 20 Mar 2019
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers (Australia) Pty Ltd
Publication City, Country: New South Wales, Australia
Dimensions (cm): 21(H) x 13.6(L) x 1.9(W)
Weight (gm): 221

 

Author Biography

Vicki Laveau-Harvie was born in Canada, but lived for many years in France before settling in Australia. She has three passports and treasures the unique perspective this quirk of fate affords her. In France, she worked as a translator and a business editor, despite being a specialist in 18th century French literature. In Sydney, she lectured in French Studies at Macquarie University. After retiring, she taught ethics in a primary school. Vicki Laveau-Harvie is passionate about writing, education and communication. Her memoir, The Erratics, won the 2018 Finch Memoir Prize and was longlisted for the Stella Prize. She has won prizes for short fiction and poetry.
The Erratics: 2019 Stella Prize Winner
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