Some Days

Some Days
Lucy Moffatt


 

Some Days is the debut memoir of Lucy Moffatt, which focuses on the friendship between her and Chelsea. It is a part coming-of-age story, an attempt to come to terms with grief, third wave feminist manifesto, and an exploration of the human heart. This book was a comfort to read, to have experiences which were so close to my own on the page: the struggle to fit in, grappling with mental health, and the assurance that being fifteen was a bad time for everyone.

Moffat’s “one last long, winding chat with the memory of her best friend,” Chelsea, entreats us to the private memories, personal feelings and her process of piecing herself back together after the devastating loss of her best friend. Entwining Chelsea’s blog posts throughout the memoir transforms it from being purely Lucy’s story into both Chelsea and Lucy’s story, spanning from their first meeting as five-year-olds to their last conversation.

Gut-wrenching and uplifting at the same time Some Days reminds the reader that tragedy can strike at any moment. While there may never be that picture-perfect sense of closure we long for, Moffatt is a shining example that the human heart is stronger than we think.

The book was sometimes a struggle to read due to the depth of emotion, as with non-ficiton there is no ability to remind myself that this didn’t actually happen, that no one is feeling this amount of anger, depression and sadness. However, Some Days is an important read. It is not just a book about death but about growing up and finding your identity amidst a world which portrays female friendship as either gossiping over cocktails or fighting for male attention, rather than the complex relationships that they are. Moffatt makes it clear that she seeks to break those stereotypes and highlight the positive impacts of female friendship through her memoir.

While I occasionally struggled to get a clear picture of Chelsea in my head, I saw the strength of their friendship, through the beautifully written recollections of memories. Reading it, I knew that I had access to the most vulnerable side of the author and an intimate view into her heart at a time of extreme grief.

This memoir speaks to the universal experiences of love, loss, and growing up. It is a must read for everyone, written by a local author who truly encapsulates what the Adelaide arts have to offer.

 

4.5 Stars


Words by Georgina Banfield

A Case to Answer – by David Bevan

Originally published in 1994, a year after the trial of accused war criminal Ivan Polyukhovich, David Bevan’s book has been republished to reach a new audience with forewords from both the Senior Counsel for the Defence and Senior Counsel for the DPP. Bevan’s role as a court reporter for Australia’s first war crime prosecution spanning from 1990 to 1993, has informed his account of the trial, yet he remains a narrator rather than a figure in his own retelling allowing rather than placing himself at the centre of the legal proceedings. He gives equal weight to both the prosecution and defence, although it seems as though despite his intentions Bevan, seems to sympathise with the prosecution as most Australians are wont to do.

 

A case beginning in the 1980’s, Adelaide resident, Ivan “Ivanechko” Polyukhovich was accused of a mass murder of Jewish citizens of in the village of Serniki, in German occupied Ukraine. Ukrainian himself, Polyukhovich worked under the Wehrmacht during 1942. He was arrested in Adelaide in 1990, four years after The Advertiser released his picture and name to the public and two years after Australia amended the War Crimes Amendment Bill. The next three years were fraught with court cases, appeals and witnesses travelling from Ukraine, Israel and Russia to testify against Polyukovich.

 

Despite there being forty years between the war crime and the trial, among the residents of Serniki there was a strong sentiment and cultural memory of Polyukhovich committing the murders. This truth was further uncovered by the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) set up by the Federal Government.

 

Bevan writes a poignant and harrowing retelling of a tragedy especially when photographs of the victims sit side by side with witnesses’ court testimony. Over time, names have been lost to history but they are not altogether forgotten. The constant repetition of the court proceedings with the cross examination and constant objections really highlighted the gravity of the crimes and gave the audience a small glimpse into the horror of this massacre.

 

Human resilience is embedded through Bevan’s account with stories of pain and loss. He demonstrates the way war ripped apart families and communities through the isolated setting of a Ukrainian village.

 

Despite this, at times it felt as though I was trawling through court transcripts, hearing conflicting testimonies, with quotes from witnesses, descriptions of court video screening from SIU’s original interviews with witnesses and historians evidence. For someone without any legal training and little knowledge at times it became overwhelming and slightly confusing.

 

Bevan also has a view of the residents of Serniki as simple village folk, untouched by modernism and reluctant to adapt to modern life, unintentionally denigrating them as simpletons who come from “primitive place” focusing on the lack of “modern buildings” and population of “children and grey-haired peasants”.

 

Bevan writes a heartbreaking account of a village ravaged by war, relatively unknown by Australian history, despite our role in the trial of Polyukhovich. He has written a book that reveals an important part of Australian and South Australian legal history. Yet its legal jargon and the need to record every legal dispute caused it to drag.

 

Nonetheless it is a must read for those interested in Australian legal history and war crimes.

 

3/5

 


Words by Georgina Banfield

Big Rough Stones

Big Rough Stones

Margaret Merrilees

Wakefield Press 2018


An awe-inspiring testament to the feminist movement in Australia, particularly South Australia and Victoria during the 1970s and 80s, Big Rough Stones follows the women of a collective throughout their lives together.

Focused on one particularly fiery lesbian, Ro, the novel looks back on her life, her achievements, her failures, and her relationships while firmly establishing her opinions—both those she put on and those she kept to herself. Ro spent her life pioneering to be a loud and proud lesbian who didn’t conform to the patriarchal power structures that guided and continue to guide the lives of a number of women.

Ro is dying, and in dying she wants to realise her dream of becoming a writer, even if she might have left it too late. She’s always wanted to write about her experiences being a lesbian and being involved in a number of protests and rallies. While she laments her writing dreams, she also looks back on her life, giving the audience glimpses into her past, in a natural and sometimes non-chronological order.

While the novel revolves around the character of Ro, we also get to know her friends and ex-lovers, in particular the love of her life, Gerry. Gerry is a country woman, self-sufficient and alone in the Victorian farmlands, living where there would have once been a dairy farm. She is stoic and capable, and somehow taken by Ro, who is very much loud, obnoxious and opinionated (even when contradicting herself).

The book works retrospectively, separated into four parts titled: “Now”, “A While Ago”, “A Long Time Ago”, before returning to “Now”. This shows how times have changed, how ideas from Ro’s youth have continued to inform her thinking, and how her opinions have changed as she grew older.

It was wonderful to read such a powerful, loud, book by a South Australian author and see familiar places such as Adelaide, Kingston and Grange. To hear about women living together, helping one another, and fighting for what they believe in. It was fascinating to hear about the protests, rallies, picnics, and meetings that would have contributed to the transformation of everyday life for women in Australia today.

Margaret Merrilees debut novel The First Week won the Wakefield Press Unpublished Manuscript Award in 2013. Fables of the Queer and Familiar was published in 2014 and was also broadcast around Australia as a radio serial.


3/5 Stars

Big Rough Stones is available for purchase from Wakefield press here.


Words by Kayla Gaskell