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Book Reviews

Glue

Glue is a love story. Glue is a love story about a culture and a lifestyle increasingly under threat from the never-ending "development" of the inner city and previously working class suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney.

Glue is a love story about Merry and James, refugees from bloody, meaningless crimes. Both live close to their gory secrets and flee from conventional lifestyles to squat in the remaining terraces of Port, a generic up and coming suburb in the war-zone stage of development. Both fleeing from their memories and the difficulty of comprehending it all, they live on either end of a block of three derelict houses. Each makes their home their own, and entertains their respective guests.

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James lives an isolated hermit existence, waiting for the day his home too, will be demolished. He spends the money under his bed on the best coffee money will buy, and drinks far too much of it. He dreams of Florida, his only friend, she of the green, blue, black, orange lipstick and no friend at all.

Merry is on the run and hiding from her former life, trying in vain to avoid a large and transient social life, who quickly start arriving on her doorstep. She doesn't like it, but she doesn't tell them to go away either, oh no, Merry is far too nice for thatů

They meet in a suitably blood-drenched moment, Merry saving James, as later he will save her. Glue is a novel full of details of a life lived on the fringes. There are the usual suspects: sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll and a full parade of crusty, creative types who traipse through their houses and their lives before the dramatic denouement of fantasy. For fantasy surely it must be? Both characters carry enough baggage, but not enough maturity to cope with the reality of their lives and all that they entail. We all have escape fantasies, but those of us who have tried it soon learn that running away solves little. I found the ending idealistic and cliched.

The locations confused me as well. One of the advantages of travelling is the ability to indulge one's recollections in visualising settings. I enjoyed reading Bram Stoker's Dracula in the Yorkshire graveyard where the Count ravished Lucy, and so hoped to be able to put Merry and James in familiar surroundings as well. But to my dismay the suburbs have bland names and seem to be a deliberate mixture of Sydney and Melbourne. I could never quite make up my mind whether I was thinking Newtown or Port Melbourne. I found this distracting, and of little value: perhaps it is the writer's intention to appeal to both cities? But they are too different to combine, both deliciously interesting, and I expect the target market would know both as well.

I found the novel to be good late night reading, and hope to catch a look at her other books: Nature Strip and Big Man's Barbie.

Leonie Stevens

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ISSN 1328-8008
Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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