A book review for The Weekend Australian’s Review. Excerpt below.
You’ll Be Sorry When I’m Dead
By Marieke Hardy
Allen & Unwin, 304pp, $29.99
Life in modern Australia as a hedonistic young woman is vividly portrayed in Marieke Hardy’s You’ll Be Sorry When I’m Dead.
Hardy, 35, charts her life so far via a series of short stories built around particular themes or events – a friend being diagnosed with breast cancer, her adolescent love of the Fitzroy Football Club, the shame of holidaying with her parents as a single adult – which allow for digressions to help assemble a fuller picture.
We learn Hardy, the granddaughter of author Frank Hardy, is an only child raised by a pair of “theatre folk” whose open attitude toward nudity rubbed off on their daughter. Hardy writes gleefully of informing programming staff at radio station Triple J during a job interview that there are naked photographs of her “all over the internet”. She was married once, in her late 20s, to a man with a young child from a previous relationship. This relationship is mentioned on page 101, then glossed over until their acrimonious break-up is detailed near the end of the book.
In between Hardy, a Melbourne-based broadcaster and scriptwriter for shows such as Packed to the Rafters and most recently the ABC series Laid, depicts what seems like her entire romantic history.
From scampering around naked men in the Fitzroy changerooms as a wide-eyed, sexless child to attending her first swingers’ night, her stories leave little on the cutting room floor when it comes to sex. At the swingers’ night, after describing an excruciating series of pre-coitus conversations where both author and participants coyly refuse to reveal much about themselves, Hardy is confronted with the beginnings of an orgy:
In the corner, just out of view, somebody was already making a spectacular amount of noise on the round bed. We edged our way towards it, stepping over the anarchy of flesh. “I do believe,” I said in hushed, reverent tones to my boyfriend when our eyes adjusted, “that nice lady in the trench coat over there is being fisted.”
Your reaction to that particular image will determine whether or not Hardy’s eye for graphic detail is for you. It’s clear that little shocks the author, and this self-aware, detached manner of approaching her role as narrator heightens the appeal of these stories.
Curiously, Hardy allows some of the people she writes about to respond, with revealing results. At the end of a chapter where Hardy and her then-boyfriend engage the services of a male prostitute, her ex writes, via email: “My only criticism, as a writer, would be, if you’re going to share then don’t hold back. Because it seems you want to share Marieke the caricature, when the soul of the Marieke that I knew, in dark, hard times, well, she was a real person. And a lovely one at that.”