Truth doesn’t always hurt: You’ll be sorry when I’m dead – Marieke Hardy

I finished this book feeling a bit sticky and tired, as though I’d just been on an all night bender with a warm hearted stranger I took up with while travelling. It’s a champagne-clinking, fist-in-the-air, misty-eyed memoir commemorating the spoils and foils of misspent youth in Melbourne in the 80’s and 90’s – and I loved it.

I have to concede that my being only marginally older than Hardy, and of similar political mind-set, may have increased the appeal of the book, and I’m not sure that your average bloke from the northern suburbs would feel the same way (I’m not sure if they read anyway so maybe nothing has been lost there?). Many times I laughed out loud at the friendly little digs she makes at the soft, comfortable under belly of educated Melbourne middle-classness, the sort of in joke that would probably be lost on those who aren’t familiar with the contempt we smart-arse southerners hold for the rest of the country in general.

Hardy takes us on an honest, surprising, sometimes hilarious, sometimes sobering journey through her exploratory twenties. It’s hard to comprehend how she’s managed to squeeze out a media career in between all the substances she’s ingested and friends she’s lost (not always deliberately) along the way. Her sexual experimentations (the main reason my husband read the book) were revealing in that they showed how human curiosity can override passion and often kill it in the process. Through her eyes sex is less – well – sexy and more like an adventurous romp between chimps that’ve let their grooming go a bit too far. Her visit to the swingers club in well-heeled Kew is particularly enlightening, and men who still think ‘it might be a good idea to freshen the relationship’ would be well advised to read it.

Throughout the book Hardy manages a healthy enough balance between sentimentality and self-depreciating humour to make it a fun and reflective read. My sappy hubby even cried over the chapter where she reflects on her experience of accidental motherhood and, speaking from personal step-mum experience, it is moving. She is right when she says ‘… there is not one word in the known language that describes what it feels like for a once-reluctant stepmother to lose access to a child she has learned to raise.’ Mothering someone else’s kids on L plates is a terrifying and eye-opening experience. It’s the main reason I chose to have a child of my own, so I didn’t have to sit on the sidelines for the rest of my life (and I didn’t have to feel guilty for screwing up someone else’s kids when I could do it to my own as well!).

The public Marieke is not always the most popular of personalities. In Sorry when I’m dead she gives us all a chance to get to know her better and she takes the opportunity to explain herself to her past. It’s a brave deed, a public act of contrition, but not annoyingly so. Hardy’s ‘You’ll be sorry when I’m dead‘ could be the Aussie answer to Eat Pray Love – a journey of self discovery that uses booze in place of meditation and prayers to Bob Ellis instead of God.

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: 2012 AWW Challenge Wrap-up: History, Biography, Memoir « Australian Women Writers Challenge
  2. shambolicliving
    Jan 27, 2012 @ 16:39:14

    Great review. I didn’t think I’d like that book but you may have turned me around and convinced me to read it.


  3. shelleyrae @ Book'd Out
    Jan 25, 2012 @ 15:53:23

    A wonderful review, I am tentative when it comes to memoirs but I think I will have to pick this one up.

    Shelleyrae @ Book’d Out


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