The Erratics is a memoir by Canadian-born Australian translator and author, Vicki Laveau-Harvie. It is the winner of the Finch Memoir Prize for 2018. In 2007, Vicki Laveau-Harvie and her sister, in response to the news that their mother has broken a hip, arrive in Okotoks, in Alberta’s prairie lands. (source: Goodreads)
A tale told with agile humour, this book was a standout. Set In Alberta (“in winter the cold will kill you, nothing personal”) Although there is a humourous element, it does not threaten to take over the narrative. It is, in fact, a relatable story of a very dysfunctional family. Highly recommended.
Here are some passages from the book:
“My sister’s partner leaves the room at some point and strides down the wide hallway to inspect the elevator my mother takes to the lobby every morning to buy her newspapers and flowers. My sister’s partner is a handy person and wishes to inspect the elevator doors to see if there’s any way to rig them to open onto a void when my mother pushes the button.”
“I don’t clean. My disinclination for this activity I call by various names: sloth, depression, boredom. It’s not that I dislike clean. I like it when it is done, but I don’t want to do it. I don’t want anybody else to do it for me either. I make exceptions. I clean the toilet, I wash my clothes, but organized housecleaning is as foreign to me as saying a rosary.”
“Just in case we’re having too much fun with this, let’s go back a notch in time. Only a little while, don’t be afraid, not far enough to get caught in the starry wheeling vertigo of the slow-mo free-fall no-up-and-no-down that is the more distant past. We will go there—chronology has its uses—but not just yet.”