Australian Women Writers Challenge,  Book Reviews

Jane Rawson's A Wrong Turn At The Office Of Unmade Lists

Jane Rawson's A Wrong Turn At The Office Of Unmade Lists
Jane Rawson’s A Wrong Turn At The Office Of Unmade Lists

It starts with the creases made when you fold a map up. Random lines made from repeated folding, allowing suburbs and towns never next to each other before to suddenly become neighbours, if only briefly.

Now what happens if you could travel that way?

It changes space if you could but by all things physics it should also change time.

So here is Caddy from an Australia decades ahead in the future – the rather dystopian future. And here are Simon and Sarah, decades earlier, on a quest to stand at least once in every 25-foot square of the United States and who have so far only managed to make it to San Francisco.

Enter Caddy’s friend Ray who finds a few maps and a few other things as well in the Office of Unmade Lists (not to mention the cloakroom) – all those things you could have put in order and never did, all those things you know you should do but you forget to.

Ray was no expert, but he was fairly sure darkness didn’t do that where he came from. He shuffled his feet forward a few steps, trying not to trip on the darkness, which seemed to have been left piled up all over the floor in a very messy way. With his hands, he pushed at the darkness in front of his face, trying to move some of it out of his way so he could see. His hand hit something hard. He felt for it again. Hard. Wiry. A coathanger?
“Oh great,” he said out loud. “I’m in fucking Narnia.”
– Excerpt from A Wrong Turn At The Office Of Unmade Lists by Jane Rawson

This is a book about “What if” moments and “Definitely” consequences. What if you could hop, skip and jump across the creases? And what if your world ended when the map you held did? And what if you could go back to a particular time, if the space around you had altered enough to change it? And can you not see that A will definitely lead to B?

“Sarah,” Ray butted back in. “What do you mean Simon is at the end of the world?”
“Edge, Ray. Remember, I changed my mind. It’s the edge of the world now.”
– Excerpt from A Wrong Turn At The Office of Unmade Lists by Jane Rawson

Reading A Wrong Turn At The Office of Unmade Lists is a blinkers on sideways rollercoaster ride – you can see the ups and downs but you can’t see the changes in direction and they surprise and delight you. Jane Rawson has a knack for describing settings and place and for conveying meaning through perfectly picked, hammered and nailed down dialogue. And yes there are jokes. There is a thread of snarkiness all throughout this book.

And underneath all the surprises, the snark, the ‘I have no idea where I am going with this’ sense of surrealistic madness, it’s about how we choose to live our lives and what creates the most meaning for ourselves and how we come to understand that about ourselves.

Author: Jane Rawson
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Transit Lounge Publishing
Publication Date: 2013

Marisa is a globetrotting freelance writer, journalist and editor with cat for hire (her, not the cat). She is currently based in Melbourne.

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