Josette Kubaszyk: In the Never-Never

Disparate elements are juggled to spectacular effect in Josette Kubaszyk’s memoir “In the Never-Never” [sample version]. We’re not even going to try to describe it, except to say it displays that ineffable kaleidoscopicity of memories of things fragile.

 I am not the girl from the corner down the block where my mother found my name. Something pretty plucked from the sparkling, quartzy gravel of the street. Josette. Elle a sauvé le nom.… She liked the sound. The shape. The image of the corner girl.…  I am not Jacquelynn, my sister who, along with me, was born during my mother’s French phase. Bookended between the first three and final two in her gallery of children. In a still life we stand seven, end to end, like too many apostrophes cupped within an end quote. Above us the spirit of an infant brother lingers. An illusory question left unanswered, an unexplained stoppage of breath. His ghost an invisible umlaut….  We are going away. Vacation in winter. The wheels of the blue station wagon whir, spinning us in a centrifuge, whirling us south to Never-Never Land. We dream and wake, dream and wake. Dream. The silvery hubs spin forward, then backward, rotating dizzily inside themselves. Spinning and wheeling into our dreams again, again, again, again, again.  In Australia, the remote country of the Northern Territory is called The Never-Never, and locals think of the beautiful harsh land with nostalgia… European emigrants say it is the place you never, never want to go. The white hot heat of the red desert will dry you up like a baked turtle, and only your shell will remain.  A jerk yanks me through the open hatch. Grabbing wrists, my father whips us from the car and into the dewy roadside grass. Orange flames snap at a wheel in the early light.…[Continue reading]

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