Memories of lives found and lost
Get Well Soon! My (Un)brilliant Career as a Nurse
By Kristy Chambers University of Queensland Press, 235pp, $24.95 By Amy Choi Transit Lounge, 252pp, $29.99 By Ginger Briggs Affirm Press, 297pp, $24.99
APalimpsest. Christmas visit to the kaleidoscopic gaming island of Macau where Choi’s parents have bought a retirement apartment.
Choi has a wry tone with a quirky eye for detail, though her first impressions of Europe seem fairly standard. Macau and Hong Kong are more colourfully evoked through the prism of her family’s local knowledge. Playing House is enjoyable but Choi’s self-absorption somehow prevents everyone else, even Scott, from lifting off the page, except perhaps Lydia.
is not a memoir. It’s a creative work of nonfiction about real people, inspired by what could be considered an unpublished memoir: a record of events written as therapy by a shattered crisis worker named Mez. Melbourne writer Ginger Briggs has used this material to reconstruct the harrowing life story of Andrew, a ward of the state. Mez appears to have been the only one of his carers to have actually cared.
Andrew was abandoned at birth and beaten by a bastard stepfather before being legally renounced by his adoptive parents when he was 10. By 1984, he had been introduced to drugs and sexually abused by a predatory social worker before washing up, emaciated and cowering like a dog that had been hit by a car’’, at Wakma Reception Centre in Victoria, aged 12.
Mez was on duty and took the quivering blond boy under her wing, providing a trustworthy kindness Andrew had never known. Mez was barely 20 at the time and had no formal training. Unfortunately, she could be only a respite. Whenever she was out of the picture, Andrew’s demons from years of neglect fired up a chaotic cycle of selfdestruction.
is well put together and entirely heart-wrenching. If it can assist in bringing about positive change by drawing attention to an ongoing system that punishes children for not having parents, Briggs will have put Mez’s troubled memories to good use.