- Paperback: 224 pages
- Publisher: 4th Estate - AU (20 March 2019)
- ISBN-10: 1460758250
- ISBN-13: 978-1460758250
- Product Dimensions: 13.6 x 1.9 x 21 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 200 g
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,766 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Erratics: 2019 Stella Prize Winner Paperback – 20 Mar 2019
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About the Author
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.
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When the sisters arrive in the small Alberta town where they grew up they find their mother in hospital being her usual schizoid self; charming and manipulative on one hand and violently aggressive on the other. They are shocked to see their father’s skeletal thinness: their mother has been restricting his calories. So begins a saga. As they try to get their mother assessed as incompetent so that she can’t go home and kill their father they find themselves trawling through the usual problems of dealing with bureaucracies and home care arrangements. Vicki finds herself travelling between Canada and her home in Australia. Her sister has a near death experience which at first seems to be due to anaphylactic shock but turns out to be a rare medical condition. Stress, of course, is a factor and it fell to her to hold an estate sale when their father decided to move out.
Laveau-Harvie is a former academic (French language) and is clearly extremely intelligent and perceptive. Two of the enjoyable aspects of the book are her dark humour and her general knowledge. The allusions to just about anything going include a reference to racing driver Fangio when her father (who hasn’t driven for years) floors it making a dangerous left turn across a busy main highway. Factor in that the only reason they are facing this possible death trap is that her mother has decreed that he and Vicki should have lunch in a town that necessitates taking this route. This book has its own Cinderella story. It’s Laveau-Harvie’s debut novel and her publisher closed down six months after the book came out. There weren’t many copies around but then ... it won a prestigious prize and has been republished by another company. It’s very deserving of both. PS: The Erratics are strange rock formations erupting from the Alberta prairie. They have their own native legend.
Of particular interest is the way the two sisters have responded differently to their upbreaking.
The memoir moves backwards and forwards through time as the writer seeks to explain and understand.
The writing is precise and evocative.