Too Close To Home by Georgia Blain
Using an inheritance from her recently deceased mother, Freya, an up-and-coming playwright, and Matt, an architect, have moved with their young daughter from the inner- city to a nearby suburb on the brink of gentrification. Freya is happily creating a comfortable nest for the three of them, filling the house with tastefully accumulated objects from their own and her parents’ lives, and sampling the authenticity of her new suburb. Matt meanwhile is more ambivalent – restless in their newly acquired respectability and the responsibilities inherent in family and home ownership.
A chance encounter with Shane, an old friend, unravels the certainty of their little world. Shane, an Aboriginal activist, brings home the messy reality of indigenous life. He also brings news of Matt’s ex-lover Lisa and the unsettling possibility of another child in Matt’s life. When the inevitable crisis occurs, it is not the marginalised Shane who succumbs to tragedy; Freya and Matt, with all their privilege, are the ones whose lives are diminished.
Freya and Matt’s dilemmas reflect those of affluent Australia in the twenty-first century – there is a reluctance to sacrifice any advantage for the sake of change, despite recognising our own part in the problem. Like Freya and Matt, we are generally reluctant to put our money where our mouth is. Too Close to Home is just that. All my own white middle- class, artsy, lefty pretensions were put under a glaring spotlight – the self-indulgence of ‘inner-city elites’ uncompromisingly laid bare. Confronting us with our own world, Georgia Blain gives us no safe distance.
Susan Stevenson is from Readings Malvern.