Amanda Lohrey is the author of The Philosopher's Doll and the award-winning Camille's Bread. She has published many essays on Australian political life, including the acclaimed Quarterly Essay 8, Groundswell- The Rise of the Greens, as well as two political novels, The Morality of Gentlemen and The Reading Group.
With the novella Vertigo, award-winning author Amanda Lohrey (The Philosopher's Doll, Camille's Bread) once more taps into the Australian zeitgeist. Luke and Anna, 30-something corporate editors living in Sydney's Glebe, are affected by a familiar convergence of affluenza, crippling mortgages and pollution. They are also linked by a shared tragedy. In pursuit of the 'rural idyll' and hoping to escape their painful past, they embark on the proverbial sea-change by moving to the coastal settlement of Garra Nalla. This place, with its pared-back existence and natural beauty, initially fulfils some of their expectations. Anna's chronic asthma eases; they build a garden and Luke becomes an avid bird watcher. But here, without the constant distractions of city-life, souls are inevitably laid bare to more elemental energies and the idyll beings to unravel as Luke and Anna move towards individual epiphanies. Lohrey's Vertigo seems at least to tip its hat to W G Sebald's novel of the same name, echoing a similar structure (parts not chapters), meditations on similar concerns and incorporating grainy black and white photographs. This lyrical fable about the nature of memory and grief, home and happiness, imparts the simple lesson that there is no escaping the self. Paula Grunseit is a freelance reviewer and former deputy editor of Good Reading magazine