Ten Steps To Nanette

Dear readers, I have been on holiday. I enjoyed a lovely relaxing week with some friends in Cairns, bobbing in the pool in the sunshine, eating delicious food, chatting, playing games, and of course, reading (more on that later). But before I left for my week in the tropical sun, I had a task to complete. I had borrowed Hannah Gadsby's sort-of autobiography, Ten Steps To Nanette, from the Athenaeum Library (are you sick of me talking about that yet??) and it was due back the day after my return from FNQ. So I had to finish it before I left, didn't I?

It was no chore to race through this book, though it is harrowing reading at times. Gadsby is an absolute professional at playing their audience like a fiddle, something they talk about in some detail while describing how they wrote their award-winning, brilliant show Nanette. Gadsby uses some of the same techniques in constructing this narrative, easing us into comfort with some laughs and then, wham, punching us in the solar plexus with horrific memories or a piece of shocking information. Gadsby has wrestled with shame and fear, sexual assault, depression, self-harm, neuro-diversity, and gender identity, as well as poverty, employment issues and then, almost most disorienting of all, global celebrity with the violent success of Nanette, self-described as 'a comedy show that isn't funny.' (If you haven't seen it yet, please, in the time-honoured phrase, do yourself a favour.)

I particularly enjoyed Gadsby's discovery of the history of art and subsequent obsession with the topic as a way of understanding the world. They are obviously extremely intelligent and it's an indictment on our education system that they were allowed to fall through the cracks at school -- more evidence that we need to pay more attention to autism and ADHD in children. I really wanted to reach back in time and give little Hannah a big hug.

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