Pet Names

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The people in one's neighbourhood long for a pet name. Their rationale is your rationale. It's our rationale.

A priest discovers God in a layer of lasagna. A boy speaks on behalf of the earwig that resides in his nostril. A grandmother creates Johnny-Cash-themed collages. A church organist longs to become a bird. A girl performs Iggy Pop renditions at rodent funerals. An elderly woman doesn't realise that it is most effective to end one's life using a gas oven and not an electric one. Your mother spends her days cleaning urinals. Your father treats his foot like an ashtray. And you, well you intend to become the type of person who cultivates yoghurt.

Pet Names comprises eight loosely interrelated narratives. Each narrative depicts the nuances and idiosyncrasies of a generic suburban character whose need for interpersonal connection and self-satisfaction remains unfulfilled. The vignettes of each character's daily life include the mundane, irrational and absurd.

This is a courageous book which questions the morality and empathy which often surrounds characters from dysfunctional families. Lauren Lovett refuses to tug at heartstrings for cheap effects. Instead she uses humour and pathos and much irony to pierce the veneer of the suburban confessional without losing the melancholy and sensibility that is at the heart of human relationships. - Brian Castro