In the first chapter of You’ll Be Sorry When I’m Dead Marieke Hardy talks about her obsession with prostitutes. It began at a young age after watching musicals, and noting that whores have the best and most sensual fashions, snappy script lines, and general best cut at life. So she decided that she wanted to be one, perhaps not understanding the gritty ins and outs of the profession, like performing sex acts with largely unattractive people for money and all that stuff.
Hardy’s writing is a bit like a freight train. Her sentences gush and she runs at topics with pace. On her blog she bags Margaret Court, gets really angry at Herald Sun cartoonists, and promotes fundraisers for her friend’s battle with cancer. She is not quiet. Anyone who reads The Age has an opinion about Marieke. I happen to fall into the category of people who really like her writing, but there are plenty who do not. She writes in upper case a lot.
You’ll Be Sorry When I’m Dead is a series of essays about Hardy’s experiences. We read about herself and partner attending a swinger’s party near Melbourne airport, the holiday she had with her parents, childhood acting career, friend Gen’s struggle with cancer, raising a child, and loving to drink. While these topics all don’t lend themselves to comedy, Hardy writes about the hard topics of life alongside easier ones with charmingly brash wit.
Some of the stories I found self indulgent. In ‘The Bubble’, Hardy writes about her group of friends in the nineties who took a lot of drugs and drank heavily. For about four days at a time they would live on an island of middle-class-ness as they blew off work in favour of being fucked up. This kind of annoyed me. While it was semi-interesting to hear about the debauchery they got up to, I finished the chapter feeling even at the age of twenty three, I was a prude. Where Hardy really shines is when she writes about topics that toy with the seamless interplay between reality, hardship, and humour.
The fourth chapter of the book, titled ‘Maroon and Blue’, and was one of the best things I read all last year. Being from a family to whom Aussie Rules is the closest thing we have to religion, I love the nuances of AFL culture – where men cry, where ladies swear at umpires, where an Essendon scarf is handed down as an heirloom, and how utterly cold it can be at the MCG. In this story, Marieke traces her family’s relationship with the Fitzroy Lions. The Hardys were so dedicated to Fitzroy that they would watch them train each week, and afterwards the team would come for dinner at their house. Hardy examines the simultaneous rejection of Fitzroy and her parents in her late teens, and how she eventually came home to love both again. In 1996 Fitzroy folded as a club. When the boys played their last game in Fremantle, her and her mother travelled over to watch them.
‘When the siren eventually signalled the game’s coming to a merciful end, my mother and I turned to each other and we were both weeping. There was an unspoken shared heart-break, an overwhelming cavalcade of memory – of falling in love in the outer, tending to a blossoming pregnancy, agitating with the cheersquad, trotting about obediently after broad-shouldered icons.’
My god, how good is that.
When I read this book I was that person at the station chortling to themselves and their book smugly in utter enjoyment. When I wasn’t reading it, I was talking about it and how funny and good it is. I annoyed the hell out of friends (‘Do you like Marieke Hardy? I’m reading her book at the moment and IT’S SO GOOD I HAVE TO LEND IT TO YOU.’).
See, I can’t help but channel her with my use of upper case.