Posted by: Lisa Hill | June 11, 2011

Sensational Snippets: Gone, by Jennifer Mills

Gone

Jennifer Mills is a young writer based in Alice Springs, the geographical centre and spiritual heart of our country.

In this gritty novel called simply Gone, Mills tells the  story of man without an identity.  He’s just been released from an institution and he hitch-hikes from one side of our continent to the other, from Sydney to outback Western Australia, a journey of more than four thousand kilometres.

The second chapter begins like this:

He wakes in a stormwater drain, his body stiff and sore.  The drain is bone dry and covered by a disused road bridge.  At one end it disappears underground.  It smells rotten but the close walls are comforting.  He has no blanket but the air is warm.  His few things in a garbage bag form a sweaty pillow, and he wakes with the plastic stuck to his face, crushed into one fist.

He climbs  a steel ladder up the curved edge of the drain  It turned cold in the night and he slept badly on the bare concrete, waking every half hour, his whole body alert and eyes open to the security lights hovering in the world above.  There’s an ache in his guts which must be hunger.  He tries to remember when he last ate, when he last took a shit.  He looks at his fingers, counts back today – yesterday – the day before – but this is as far as he gets.  The day before yesterday has dissolved like wet newspaper. When did he get out, two weeks ago, three? It said on the paper.

He feels in the pockets of his tracksuit pants.  He had a form, a single flimsy bit of paper he was supposed to present.  There was a name on the form.  It’s not in his pocket now.  He must have left it with the woman at the Centrelink office, the woman who told him it was the wrong form, or the wrong day.  Too late, mate.  Nothing I can do.  (Gone, p 4-5)

Author: Jennifer Mills
Title: Gone
Publisher: UQP (University of Queensland Press), 2011
ISBN: 9780702238710
Source: Review copy, courtesy of UQP.


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