Home Truths by Mandy Nolan
(Finch Publishing $24.99)
Review by Lisa Walker
Home Truths is Mandy Nolan’s third comedic memoir. Following hot on the heels of Boyfriends We’ve All Had (But Shouldn’t Have) and What I Would Do If I Were You, in Home Truths she turns her shrewd gaze onto all things domestic. And as it turns out, the home is a very funny place.
As a child, Mandy used to wander the streets at night, looking into other people’s windows. She enjoyed the surreptitious peek into their private world. This book is an extension of that early fascination, asking the question – who are we when we close the door?
Mandy introduces us to her childhood, in a small town near Kingaroy, which was of course Joh Bjelke-Petersen heartland at the time. Here in Wondai, she developed a syndrome that has stayed with her – Fear of Missing Out on Living Somewhere Better.
Leaving Wondai for university, she lands in a share house in Brisbane. This quickly becomes a squalid mess, with a special feature ‘poo corner.’ The girls are too lazy to train their cats to use the kitty litter. This hideous living experience could be the harbinger of her later OCD cleaning fetish.
Moving up in the world, Mandy ventures into the territory of home building. Here she meets the ‘coping guy’ whom she imagines as, ‘some sort of super dude who can handle demanding, difficult and obstreperous women like me. I’m up for the challenge…’
Via homelessness and living alone we find ourselves in the busy world of the ‘at-home worker.’ Popping down for a coffee in a pair of black pyjamas Mandy is told that she looks ‘very corporate.’ It’s easy to let standards slip in a town like Mullumbimby.
Along the way, we explore the psychology of missing socks, the optimum number of decorating cushions and the difficult art of Feng Shui. ‘Why change your behaviour when all you have to do is move the bed?’ Boarding up her daughter’s room seems the only solution to a tricky Feng Shui problem in Mandy’s house.
Full of laugh-out-loud and uncomfortably honest moments, Home Truths is an incisive and exuberant examination of our homemaking instincts.
• Mandy Nolan will be appearing at the Byron Bay Writers Festival.