Monsters by Alison Croggon

‘I can’t write this story in a straight line.’

A fractured relationship with a sister provides the starting point for this reflective narrative. From the individual (who am I, and where do I fit within the smaller world of family) through the present (including the privileges bestowed by place of birth and colour of skin) to the historical (the impact of British imperialism with its underlying racist and sexist behaviours). And, when these influences are considered and weighed, what of the future? Do we recognise the need to revisit (some at least) of our attitudes? Can we change?

In trying to understand her place in the world, Ms Croggon raises some serious and uncomfortable questions. We each occupy a life shaped by custom, culture, and history. Many of us accept, without question, both the constraints and privileges we are born into. In questioning this for herself, Ms Croggon invites the reader to do the same.

‘I need these narratives that give me a larger picture of who I am.’

I want to reread this book. As I shifted between memoir and essay, between the impact of a fractured relationship and the power structures of the British Empire, my thoughts kept straying to some of the related and painful contemporary issues in Australia.

Note: My thanks to NetGalley and Scribe UK for providing me with a free electronic copy of this book for review purposes.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith



2 thoughts on “Monsters by Alison Croggon

  1. I wondered about this book… and the ethics of writing about a fractured relationship with a sibling. It’s a shock when one realises that some absolutely fundamental values aren’t shared by members of the same family, but even so, I think there’s usually a line that shouldn’t be crossed.
    But then, LOL, I’m not a writer…

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not a writer either, and it made me uncomfortable in places. It made me think more about different views of the world, especially the shared world of family. I would not feel comfortable writing about my siblings: all realities are different.

    Yet, beyond the sibling difference, there are important issues about how our worldview is shaped. While the essay parts worked better for me than the memoir, I want to revisit the book at some stage in the future.


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