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281 Karangahape Rd Auckland

Zarah Butcher-McGunnigle

Nostalgia Has Ruined My Life


‘From the discomfort of my own home I buy dresses, look up recipes, do online surveys.’ In Nostalgia Has Ruined My Life, an unnamed young woman in her late twenties navigates unemployment, boredom, chronic illness and online dating. Her activities are banal – applying for jobs, looking up horoscopes, managing depression, going on Tinder dates. ‘I want to tell someone I love them but there is no one to tell,’ she says. ‘Except my sister maybe. I want to pick blackberries on a farm and then die.’ She observes the ambiguities of social interactions, the absurd intimacies of sex and the indignity of everyday events, with a skepticism about the possibility of genuine emotion, or enlightenment. Like life, things are just unfolding, and sometimes, like life, they don’t actually get better. Zarah Butcher-McGunnigle’s novella-in-fragments blends artifice with sincerity, is darkly funny, and alive to the incongruous performance that constitutes getting by.

This book is for anyone who feels they are waiting for life to begin. I’ve never read anything else like it. Butcher-McGunnigle is compulsively readable, hilarious, wonderful – a master of the whiplash turn, the dark plunge, and thrillingly, unapologetically negative energy.Ashleigh Young

It’s full of moments that, to me, are perfect…And “perfect” is the word I want to use, with the trace meaning of “complete” – consummately whole, exactly right, every element in glowering harmony, as densely fixed as a neutron star.
Ursula Robinson-Shaw