The House that Linette Built (or, Inside the House of my Father’s Birth Mother)

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The Sallies men move through the house like reverent ghosts. ‘We can’t take that,’ they say. ‘It’s ripped. Yep, we can take that.’ Their feet pad the pale carpet, perhaps wary of lurking grief. I try to piece together the left over ephemera into a life, a woman: a splayed grass skirt; a chipped Alsatian ashtray; seven champagne coupes wrapped in newspaper; a box of wooden Tourist Hotel Corporation of New Zealand coat hangers; two black umbrellas; a Stereophonic radiogram, Chas and Dave’s Ain’t No Pleasing You forever on the turntable; a girlish white wedding album stripped of its photographs, spidery black captions beneath plastic: “Had joined a family of three beautiful women, but he chose the original.” She had thought herself beautiful! She thought herself original! The torn corner of a ten-dollar note floats to the ground. Continue reading

Book Review: The Most Dangerous Animal of All: Searching for my Father and Finding The Zodiac Killer

The Most Dangerous Animal of All: Searching for my Father and Finding The Zodiac Killer by Gary L. Stewart with Susan Mustafa. Harper Collins, New York, 2014.

The MOst Dangerous animal

I dedicate this review to my grandparents, Jean and Colin Barley. Thank you.

I don’t know enough about the Zodiac Killer case to judge whether Stewart’s findings are plausible. It doesn’t really matter. The timeliness of reading this book, for me, was the connection I felt with Stewart’s relentless drive to uncover his roots. Like many adopted people (including, I think, my father) Stewart has a happy life; but something is missing. There is no genetic frame within which to place himself in space and time.

Gary L. Stewart, I get it. I get how addictive and all-encompassing the search can be. I know because I’ve been there.
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