I watched an interview with Jane Rawson on ABC’s The Mix recently and was struck by her comment that she tries to insert humour into climate fiction, which is not an easy thing to do. After reading her novel, A Wrong Turn at the Office of Unmade Lists I can happily attest that she absolutely succeeded.
This book is so wonderfully different and so fabulously Australian. Set in Melbourne a couple of decades into the future, it starts out pretending to be a fairly standard post-apocalyptic story and then somehow bleeds into Jasper Fforde-style humorous madness.
It is 1997 in San Francisco and Simon and Sarah have been sent on a quest to see America: they must stand at least once in every 25-foot square of the country. Decades later, in an Australian city that has fallen on hard times, Caddy is camped by the Maribyrnong River, living on small change from odd jobs, ersatz vodka and memories. She’s sick of being hot, dirty, broke and alone.
Caddy’s future changes shape when her friend, Ray, stumbles across some well-worn maps, including one of San Francisco, and their lives connect with those of teenagers Simon and Sarah in ways that are unexpected and profound.
There’s never been a better time to retreat into a world of imagination. I very much enjoyed escaping into Jane Rawson’s world for a few hours.