This is Katie Haegele’s book, and Katie is my friend. Not that we’ve ever met or anything, but when you read this you become her friend. I don’t think I’ve ever read a writer who is so there with you when you’re reading their writing. It’s like she’s right there in the room telling you her stories, and she’s kind of excited and has so much to tell you, and has to get it all out. I know how she feels. I originally bought the zines that became this book, so I kind of knew what I was getting. And I think that it’s so great that it started out as a collection of zines because it would have been totally different if she had started out writing a book. It kind of sounds terrible but when I was reading the original zines and some of her others I thought this is so good for a zine. But that’s not what I really meant, I think I meant that it’s just the best no matter where I’d read it, zine, book, e-reader, magazine, whatever.
It’s basically just about Katie and her mom going around the church rummage sales over four summers. But she can’t help herself as it’s about her relationship to her mother, the passing of her father. It’s about what she found at the sale, what she plans to use her findings for, the good stuff she finds, the bad stuff, and as the title says, finding what was missing. She tells of the people running the sales and of gossipy church women. Who she likes and who she doesn’t, who has the best sale, and what all this discarded stuff means. So it’s about white elephants sales and the meaning of life.
Katie studied linguistics which I think is important, as for me it doesn’t have that ‘I’ve studied creative writing” feel about it. I kind of think that maybe it’s like she learnt how to build the foundations first, and not the tricks to make your writing sound important. For instance I went to art school and it took me years to unlearn all the garbage that they taught me. I think it’s no coincidence that most of the big time artists in Australia studied architecture.
Anyway enough of my crackpot theories. What I also like about Katie’s writing is that she uses words like “doodads” and it doesn’t sound all clunky and deliberate, and I wonder, how does she do that voodoo with language. I think it’s because it comes from the heart and that she means and is excited about everything she writes about.
So buy this book. It’s brilliant. And if you buy this book off her you’ll probably get a handwritten note about how the weather is or how she had a shitty/wonderful day at work, or how her cat Trixie is.
Buy it here.