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“Hello I’m Charlotte Wood, and this is from my novel Animal People – a 24 urban love story, with animals. This is the day Stephen is going to break up with Fiona, his girlfriend – but first he has to buy one of her daughters a birthday present.
The girls would be all right, he had already decided. Children were resilient. Adults did not like to accept this, but Stephen knew it to be true. Children understood more intelligently than adults that all things passed. They would bounce back. They would forget him in a couple of weeks.
Would Fiona ever let him see them again?
In Kmart he stared at the shelves of My Little Ponies. Larry and Ella were infatuated with this junk. They had My Little Pony toys – hard plastic ones, soft fluffy ones – and books and DVDs and lunch boxes and drink bottles, but still they begged and whined for more every time one of the nauseating My Little Pony ads came on the television. But which to get?
Standing here in the industrial draught of the Kmart air-conditioning he learned there were many different ponies, called Starsong and Sweetie Belle and Rainbow Dash and Pinkie Pie. They had wide, hoofless feet, tiny little bodies and wide flat heads with enormous, freakishly lashed eyes. But the essential part of the My Little Pony was the hair. Every pony’s luxuriant, roiling, pink and purple nylon mane was longer than the pony’s height, and each had a pink and purple nylon tail, equally long, to match. Each Pony came with a set of hair accessories: hairbrushes, combs, ribbons, hairclips, extensions and tiaras. The lushly curled hairstyles of the ponies reminded Stephen of the slightly dangerous bombshells who lolled over velvet chaise longues in the midday movies of his childhood – Zsa Zsa Gabor, Mrs Robinson. Stephen had tried to follow the logic of the ponies’ peculiarly female world. They stood on their hind legs and carried handbags. They lived in Ponyville, in mansions made of ‘candy’. There were also smaller, baby Little Ponies that wore diapers and sucked on pacifiers. They all visited fun parks, rode Ferris wheels. When Ella explained that whenever the ponies visited the sea they magically became beautiful mermaids, Stephen gave up.”
ABOUT CHARLOTTE WOOD:
Charlotte Wood’s new novel Animal People was published in October 2011. She is the author of The Children and The Submerged Cathedral and editor of Brothers & Sisters. Her novels have been shortlisted for various prizes including the Miles Franklin Award and the regional Commonwealth Writer’s Prize.
“I’ve been associated with Varuna for more than 15 years, given various fellowships for my first two novels and then working as a mentor myself, and contributor to the Varuna Alumni activities.” Charlotte Wood
Animal People (2011)
Brothers & Sisters (ed) (2009)
The Children (2007)
The Submerged Cathedral (2004)
Pieces of a Girl (1999)
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