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No depression in New Zealand



I was reminded of this particular repressive trait this week, when Bill English took a phone call from Donald Trump and reported that he did not upset Trump at all, and they chatted amiably for 15 minutes. English did mention that he had some concerns over the U.S. immigration policies, but climate change never came up. He seemed so proud of his restraint, but was this something to be proud of? I am always alarmed at how ferocious New Zealanders are inside their cars, how if you cut in front of them they will scream and swear and contort, completely out of proportion to the misdemenour. They are encased in metal and glass, a smooth glinting exterior – you can’t hear a word of what they’re saying – but inside they’re going mental, flecking their windscreen with spittle.

I fact-checked this comic after I drew it, and although this is my memory of events, my mother tells it differently. Her mother did finally admit that Nana had hung herself, 7 years after the event. My mother knew at 9 – “little pigs have big ears” – but her parents denied it. What she learnt from her aunt almost 30 years later was the reality of living with bipolar disorder. Nana would be depressed, or elated, spending way too much money on goods that my grandmother would have to secretly return. Nana drank too much, Grandad kept a fancy woman in Whanganui.  Nana left him and had to work as a housekeeper. They were Catholic – this was a big deal. My grandmother kept this all a secret from her children. Such things were the family shame, not to be talked about.

Right now I’m reading Michael Chabon’s hybrid novel/memoir, Moonglow. It took me a while to get into, but I’m fascinated by how memoir bleeds into novel writing, and how so much of a life can be invented and embellished. I’m also fascinated by how a particular understanding of a person turns out to be a lie, and how that realisation almost unhinges the project, but ultimately Chabon decides to continue. I am always excited when my mother tells me stuff about my family that seems like a novel, but then somehow I never quite remember it right, and the novelistic details of lives compound, crystallising themselves into something entirely new.

If you want to listen to the No Depression song, you can find it here. And if you want to get your very own bag, you can buy it here.

Also, please consider supporting me on Patreon! Every little bit helps!

13 Comments leave one →
  1. 10/02/2017 3:12 pm

    Ah families. Often you only find out when you are older. My sibs were stunned to find out at an aunt’s funeral that she were a published poet. We only ever heard the story about how she was not the person who my unclewas supposed to marry.

    • Sarah Laing permalink*
      10/02/2017 3:23 pm

      It’s crazy! I want everyone to write their memoirs so I can find out the things I forgot to ask/they didn’t tell me

      • 10/02/2017 4:01 pm

        Hi Sarah. Thank you for this post. I’ve never commented here before but the subject of depression motivated me to today – I am not having a great day. I have a blog too and a recently published memoir (May, 2016) that not many people have read because I am a nobody in the literary world, which is rather depressing, as I am assured it is a very good and funny book (and blog). Stephanie Johnson endorsed my book and said it was one of the best childhood memoirs she’d ever read, but still I haven’t received a formal review and so it hasn’t sold enough for the publishers to publish volume II, which is deeply frustrating. Congratulations on your recent success; I read your Listener interview with great interest and admiration and aim to get your book once I’ve made it through Mansfield’s poetry collection and Simon de Beauvoir’s memoirs. I really wish you would read my memoir, but I guess everyone asks you to read their books and you can’t read them all. My blog is ‘OWW: One Woman’s World’ and my memoir is ‘The Grass Was Always Browner’, if you should have any inclination to take a look. Best of luck and light to you, Sacha.

      • Sarah Laing permalink*
        10/02/2017 7:05 pm

        Hi Sacha, I will look out for your book next time I’m at Unity. Sorry to hear that it hasn’t had much attention – it’s so hard to get noticed these days, what with dwindling book pages and everyone’s obsession with Netflix and Facebook and hyper-marketing blockbuster-type books. Maybe there are other ways you can get the sequel out there? Did you have an Australian or NZ publisher? I’m intrigued by your Russian fascination – Katherine Mansfield had one too, as I’m sure you know!

      • 10/02/2017 8:55 pm

        Thanks for that, Sarah, you are very good to pay me such attention, it really means a lot. I think my Russian fascination had much to do with my ballet history – I had a Russian ballet teacher – as well as the charm of their names in contrast with my ever so ordinary one (Sally), or so it seemed to me as a child. The grass is always greener, indeed, hence the title of my memoir. It was published by an Australian publisher, which I thought would be best, as it’s an Australian memoir, but in hindsight, I think this was probably a mistake. One makes a fair few of those in this business. I do hope you get a chance to read it at some point, I would so value your opinion of it. And yes, I was chuffed to learn that the great KM shared my fascination with Russia, though doubtless her fascination was based on more substantial reasons – like Chekhov. Still, they sure can dance!

  2. 10/02/2017 3:18 pm

    Is there supposed to be a link behind Patreon? it isn’t working..

  3. 10/02/2017 4:43 pm

    This is very intriguing I didn’t realize that so many people were connected with trump. I have been avoiding all things trump. I am very glad to have read this and get more aware.

  4. 11/02/2017 12:34 am

    Fascinating and thoughtful. Really enjoyed stumbling across your post.

  5. 12/02/2017 6:34 am

    love your sketches! thanks for sharing

  6. Jerry Peri permalink
    12/02/2017 10:44 am

    Nice sketches and fascinating read!

  7. 05/04/2017 10:18 am

    Yesterday I was chatting to a Reverend before a funeral service. The minister and the atheist noted with quiet amusement that, after death, there are so many perfect people.

    Enjoyed this piece. Thanks.

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