Benjamin Law is apparently a senior contributor to Frankie Magazine but I suspect that he hankers to be a stand-up comedian. This raw, rude miscellany of tales about his eccentric family would probably go over quite well in an inner-city pub filled with Gen X & Ys who’ve had a couple of wines and are in the mood to be amused.
I’m not sure that his family will find it quite so funny. His parents, his mother in particular, may not be amused by having her gynecological history outed in such gratuitous detail.
Such qualms about privacy seem not to be shared by Law’s generation. Alice Pung, one of his blurbers, found it ‘scatological, hilarious and heart-breaking all at the same time’. I remember feeling rather dismayed by the frank revelations about her family, especially the unresolved conflict with her mother, in Unpolished Gem. At the Woodend Winter Arts Festival a year or so ago she admitted in conversation with Mary Delahunty that her mother hadn’t read it; risking your mother’s public embarrassment might be one of the perils of using family material in a book, eh?
But hey! this is the generation that tells all and fuddy-duddies like me who prefer a little discretion are probably past our use-by date…
The Family Law is light-hearted easy reading, and some of it really is droll (though some of the strong language is not for the prudish). I especially enjoyed the wry descriptions of his home state:
The Sunshine Coast hinterland is a haven for miserable theme parks. In contrast to the Gold Coast’s pleasure domes (Dream World, Movie World, Sea World) which are show-offy and grand, garish and decadent, theme parks on the Sunshine Coast are poor-cousiny, half-a’d and afterthoughtish. Come to Superbee, where our prime attraction is free honey tasting! Also: you can buy honey! Look: here is a man dressed as a bee! Here at the Hedge Maze, get lost! In a hedge! We also have scones! (p46)
Raili Simojoki reviewed it here.
Update: 28 June 2010:
Thanks to Steph (see comments below) for this link to Richard Fidler’s Conversation with the author on the ABC; Law comes across as a lovely young man and explains that he is unabashed about ‘outing’ his mum because she does it herself with total strangers!
Update: May 19 2012
Wrong again, Lisa, there is much more to this young author than meets the eye from The Family Law. Ben Law writes really smart non-fiction essays! See this one at the FIN.