Friday, July 22, 2005

What I've been reading - Moral Hazard by Kate Jennings

This is a book that was set reading for my Australian Writing subject last semester. I found it to be a profound book and it generated much discussion between my husband and I.
It's a quick read. A slim novel that flows easily.
In fact, you may even be able to read it in one sitting. From the beginning of the book we learn that Cath's husband has been diagnosed with Alzheimers. This mandates that she must find a high paying job somewhere. Thus she finds work in Wall Street's financial world, writing speeches for banking executives. This juxtaposes the story, where we see in sharp contrast the shoddy and greedy wheeling and dealing in money to Cath's home life and the anguish of a debilitating illness. The ending is inevitable, but what I found really moving is the way it was done. There is obvious symbolism, where a Tiffany box carries the fatal dose. A promise had been made after all. What also struck me was a remark towards the end of the novel that a nurse makes to Cath. She says that through it all, he never forgot her.

Questions that we asked ourselves at home were; could you kill me if you needed to do it?... Is that something (I) could even contemplate?... How would you do it?. ... Yes, if it was me with Alzheimers I would want you to...I don't want to end up that way.
As when most topics of a serious nature are discussed, an element of humour often becomes part of it. We began to joke about whether or not we would do it within our everyday conversations. I'm making this seem morbid, but to illustrate what I mean, one conversation rang along these lines....
RTJ: I can't do it.
RRJ: What do you mean you can't do it. I'd do it if it was you.
RTJ: What?
RRJ: I'd kill you if you wanted me to.
RTJ: No! I don't mean that! I was talking about taking the dog's out for a walk!
So, as you can see, these innocuous remarks became part of our dialogue for some weeks.

Towards the end of the book, I had an appointment at the hairdressers, and before hand I stopped off at a cafe for a quick coffee. I began reading and found myself up to the bit where she decided to keep her promise and find a way for a humane and gentle death. There I sat, coffee in front of me, book in hand and tears in my eyes. I'm sure the guy making sandwiches noticed and was wondering what I was so upset about. To try and hold my tears at bay, I took my mobile phone out and sent a message to Richard saying, "She killed him". This was on a Saturday.
The next Monday, I sat in my night time lecture, the subject being New Media. The week's topic was on Privacy, and the lecturer was telling us that SMS messages stay on a server for approximately three months. Also, certain messages were tagged. So I sat there, listening to this, thinking of the message I'd sent to my husband. Did that mean I had been tagged? Could I potentially be viewed as some sort of (dare I say it), criminal?
I don't think I would normally have picked up a book like Moral Hazard. I would read the blurb and deem it too depressing. Sometimes it's good to be given set reading. I find it broadens my horizons somewhat.

1 comment:

John Ray said...

I came across this blog whilst looking up quotes for "The first stone". Your blog interests me some what considering I usually find blogs pretty boring. I'm guessing yours is much more informative and meaningful then most blogs though. Nice writing, and if you have time you can drop by at http://spaces.msn.com/members/Doublestrokes because I think it'd be interesting hearing some female perspectives on feminism and topics of the like.

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