Thu, 20 Jun | Upstairs at Better Read Than Dead

Vicki Laveau-Harvie on The Erratics

Vicki Laveau-Harvie's extraordinary memoir The Erratics won this year's Stella Prize. Join us as she discusses her book, writing journey, and the fascinating family experiences that spawned it. Vicki will be in-conversation with Sacha Horler.
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Vicki Laveau-Harvie on The Erratics

Time & Location

20 Jun 2019, 6:30 pm
Upstairs at Better Read Than Dead, 265 King Street, Newtown NSW, Australia

About The Event

Vicki Laveau-Harvie's extraordinary memoir The Erratics won this year's Stella Prize. Join us as she discusses her book, writing journey, and the fascinating family experiences that spawned it. Vicki will be in-conversatoin with Sacha Horler.

About the Book

A ferocious, sharp, darkly funny and wholly compelling memoir of families, the pain they can inflict and the legacy they leave, The Erratics has the tightly coiled, compressed energy of an explosive device - it will take your breath away.  

When Vicki Laveau-Harvie's elderly mother is hospitalised unexpectedly, Vicki and her sister travel to their parents' isolated ranch home in Alberta, Canada, to help their father. Estranged from their parents for many years, Vicki and her sister are horrified by what they discover on their arrival. For years, Vicki's mother has camouflaged her manic delusions and savage unpredictability, and over the decades she has managed to shut herself and her husband away from the outside world, systematically starving him and making him a virtual prisoner in his own home. Vicki and her sister have a lot to do, in very little time, to save their father. And at every step they have to contend with their mother, whose favourite phrase during their childhood was: 'I'll get you and you won't even know I'm doing it.'

Praise

"If someone had told me this manuscript was by a young Margaret Attwood or Alice Munro, I wouldn't have been surprised. The bleak beauty of the Canadian landscape set against this wry memoir of a daughter's journey with her sister through their parents' decline into ill-health and dementia is an extraordinary read." - Candida Baker.

"The Erratics grabbed me by the throat and never let go. Its sharp vinegary tone added a thrilling and bracing note to this portrayal of an extreme dysfunctional family. The writing has a visceral quality as well as a terrific sense of timing, irony and place - an unfamiliar and remote location far removed from Australia, but the author's tug back to Australia from this cold, inhospitable setting adds another dimension of contrast. There is a universality to the story, of ageing parents and conflicted children grappling with uncomfortable responsibilities. I loved it." - Caroline Baum.

About the Author

Vicki Laveau-Harvie was born in Canada, but lived for many years in France before settling in Australia. She has three passports and treasures the unique perspective this quirk of fate affords her. In France, she worked as a translator and a business editor, despite being a specialist in 18th century French literature. In Sydney, she lectured in French Studies at Macquarie University. After retiring, she taught ethics in a primary school. Vicki is passionate about writing, education and communication. The Erratics won the 2018 Finch Memoir Prize and the 2019 Stella PRize. She has won prizes for short fiction and poetry.

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