The Suburban Problem of Evil


Our first scene is a Western Sydney suburban lounge-room seventeen years ago. It is very clean and tidy and full of shelves and little tables with small pastel ornaments on them. They are the figurines of angels and babies and little girls on tree stumps given out to the guests at Italian weddings and christenings. I am not Italian and neither is the woman of the house. She is a young, shrewd and attractive Australian girl- the boss's secretary in a big land development firm. She has married a sweet, deaf (too much noise on the building site), young Italian man, perhaps partly because she wants for the children she has by him a stable cultural background with plenty of family around. There are plenty of family around: boisterous uncles, and cuddly grandmothers and great aunts who can cook like Roman chefs. Some of these would still be shocked by the audacity of eating with their men, although the woman of the house and I eat with the men, since we are Australian. I am sitting on a lounge chair. At that time I am childless and in a wearing-out first marriage. I am feeling awed and alien but at the same time respectful, affectionate and deeply reassured by the little room and the beautiful children: a slender, vivacious little girl, a quiet, careful, watchful little boy and a pretty, fat baby boy.

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Published 1 November 1998 in Writing the Everyday: Australian Literature and the Limits of Suburbia. Subjects: Australian literature and writers, Boredom, Evil, Place & identity, Sexuality & sexual identity, Suburbs, Sydney, Urban life, Violent death.

Cite as: Maiden, Jennifer. ‘The Suburban Problem of Evil.’ Australian Literary Studies, vol. 18, no. 4, 1998, doi: 10.20314/als.3a4b105649.