15.4 C
Byron Shire
May 24, 2022

The hook of forgiveness in fishy fairytales

Latest News

Computers donated to home schooled kids in Lismore

There nothing like the support of the CWA ladies to help get you through a disaster and the Lismore CWA Evening Branch were very pleased to be able to help their community once again to supply computers to some flood-affected Lismore kids.

Other News

Everyone reads The Echo

The Echo loves your letters and is proud to provide a community forum on the issues that matter most to our readers and the people of the NSW north coast. So don't be a passive reader, send us your epistles.

False altar of ‘globalism’

Since moving to Australia in 2007 I have watched nothing but its sacrifice on the false altar of ‘globalism’....

Interviews with Richmond candidates 2022: Independent Nathan Jones

Nathan Jones lives in Cudgen, owns a small business and is running as an Independent for the federal seat of Richmond.

The floods are leaving people homeless and families split

There was a housing crisis on the Northern Rivers, then we had the floods of 2022 and the issue has left increasing numbers of people homeless and struggling to find alternative accommodation.

Historic sex assault and abduction – alleged offender charged

NSW Police say a man will spend the weekend in the lock-up after being refused bail today in Grafton following an investigation into the alleged historical sexual assault of a woman in Byron Bay more than 20 years ago.

Tripling water harvesting may leave local communities dry

The NSW government was looking to do catchment by catchment analysis to determine the risk to local water supply and rivers from the new rules on water harvesting rights.

Aquarium by David Vann.
Aquarium by David Vann.

Aquarium by David Vann
(Text Publishing $29.99)

Review by Sam Smith

Twelve-year-old Caitlin and her single mother Sheri live together in their small Seattle apartment. It is just the two of them, and Sheri seems determined to keep it that way. They live a difficult, uncomfortable life with Sheri working long hours on the docks in a job she detests, taking late-night shifts when she can to get ahead. The alarm wakes them in the cold, dark mornings, Sheri drops Caitlin at school where she’s greeted in the empty corridors by the school caretaker, hours before anyone else arrives. After school, Caitlin walks alone for almost an hour to the Seattle Aquarium where she immerses herself in what she feels is the much safer world of tropical fish.

In the darkened passages of the aquarium, Caitlin is enveloped in the fear of her own vulnerability should anything ever happen to her mother. She doesn’t know any other relatives and Sheri refuses to talk about the subject of family.

‘Welcome to the adult world, coming soon,’ Sheri tells Caitlin. ‘I work so I can work more. I try not to want anything so maybe I’ll get something.

‘I starve so I can be less and more. I try to be free so I can be alone.’

But Caitlin is terrified of being alone, and life changes when Caitlin meets a friendly old man at the aquarium who keeps her company during her lonely afternoons and shares her love of the underwater world.

This is the set up to David Vann’s novel, Aquarium: the deepest yearning of young narrator Caitlin to have family, pitted against Sheri’s determination to go it alone.

Aquarium is David Vann’s fifth novel, and it shares the themes of family, betrayal and the primal unleashing of anger that arise in his earlier work. However, this latest work represents a significant shift from the his hallmark macabre fiction, by adding forgiveness and redemption to its theme.

The novel contemplates that forgiveness might be possible, however challenging or remote: ‘Maybe this is as near as we can come to forgiveness. Not the past wiped away, nothing undone, but some willingness in the present, some recognition and embrace and slowing down.’

Fairytales are woven into this novel, both in the idea that happy endings might be possible, and in the realisation of parents that their children will never see their younger lives – those before having kids – as anything more than a distant story, as remote as a fairytale. Sheri’s appreciates it is every child’s right to be selfish, and she rages at the selfishness she was deprived of in her youth.

The small cast of characters in Aquarium is expertly drawn and their ethical and moral dilemmas will haunt you beyond the page. The story is told convincingly through the eyes of a precocious child, though the reader is thrust just as intensely into the world of the damaged characters that surround her, as they suffer through their searing regrets, their sense of injustice, their longing to either retain or release the past. This is a novel that leaves you with the looming question about whether you need to believe in fairytales to free yourself of the past.

BBWF 2015 Articles & Reviews


Support The Echo

Keeping the community together and the community voice loud and clear is what The Echo is about. More than ever we need your help to keep this voice alive and thriving in the community.

Like all businesses we are struggling to keep food on the table of all our local and hard working journalists, artists, sales, delivery and drudges who keep the news coming out to you both in the newspaper and online. If you can spare a few dollars a week – or maybe more – we would appreciate all the support you are able to give to keep the voice of independent, local journalism alive.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

COVID-19 update for the NNSWLHD – May 23

The Northern NSW Local Health District reports that to 4pm yesterday, Sunday May 22, there were 40 COVID-19 positive patients in hospital in Northern NSW, with one of these in ICU.

Elliot ecstatic about Albo and confident of a Richmond win

While her win in Richmond has not yet been confirmed, Justine Elliot is very happy about the overall result for Labor and a new government.

Australian politics transformed

Following an election like no other, Australia looks set to change course on climate and corruption, with the Coalition's Scott Morrison being prised from office and Anthony Albanese about to form a new Labor government with the support of Greens and teal independents.

Kevin Hogan returns for Page

Though the coalition government he represents is now in opposition, National Party candidate for Page, Kevin Hogan, has been returned to his seat and yesterday he released a statement to all media.