Friday, February 10, 2012

You'll Be Sorry When I'm Dead by Marieke Hardy

I first became aware of Marieke Hardy when someone alerted me to one of her regular columns in the The Age newspaper's weekly TV Guide The Green Guide. I think the first column of hers I read dealt with TV chef Nigella Lawson and Marieke's undying love for her and her bounteous breasts. I became a religious reader of Ms Hardy's column from that point on, they were screamingly funny and a highlight of the paper, it was a sad day when she left The Green Guide to pursue her other career in script writing for TV.

Marieke Hardy comes from a relatively famous Melbourne media family. Her great aunt was Mary Hardy, a popular radio and TV hostess in the 1970's, and her grandfather was journalist Frank Hardy, best known for his best selling novel Power Without Glory that was a fairly thinly veiled and largely true story of the tumultuous life and career of political power broker John Wren (he was called West in the book). Like her grandfather, and even her father, Marieke writes for a living. She's written a fair bit for papers and her own blogs, these days she spends most of her time working on TV scripts, she's had stints working for the perennial soap Neighbours and the runaway success Packed to the Rafters, she's also written for two shows of her own making; Last Man Standing and Laid.

As far as I know You'll Be Sorry When I'm Dead is her first book, and if it's anything to go on she's got a long career writing books ahead of her, fictional or not. Despite being in her mid thirties Marieke seems to have packed more than one lifetime of living into those 30 + years.

There are accounts of her experimentation with prostitutes and 'swinging', her encounter with a childhood idol and one of her adulthood as well, her experience as an accidental stepmother, the moving account of one of her best friend's ongoing battle with cancer and travels with and without her parents. The Fitzroy Football Club even cracks it for a mention. Marieke still seems to bare the scars of the AFL's murder of that once proud club. I'm not and never have been a Fitzroy follower, but it still irks me what the AFL did there.

When I read Barry Humphries' 'biography' of his alter ego Edna Everage I spoke about how he had really observed and written so well about the Melbourne of his early adulthood back in the 50's. Marieke does the same thing for life in inner city Melbourne in the 90's and 00's. I've known people like her friends, I can see the places she talks about, mainly because I know most of them, not as intimately as she does, but I am familiar with them. It's marvelous writing and captures the feel of where she is and what she's doing.

You'll Be Sorry When I'm Dead is by turns devastatingly honest, painfully accurate, deeply moving and most often of all hysterically funny. I wouldn't recommend reading it on public transport, people tend to look at you when you're breathless with laughter and have tears streaming down your face and most of them don't believe you when you hold up a book by way of explanation. That public humiliation aside I'd heartily recommend You'll Be Sorry When I'm Dead. As another great Australian writer; Cj Dennis, would have said 'I dips me lid.'.

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