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Death and sex make a good read

Christine Hampshire
Med J Aust 2004; 181 (11): .
Published online: 28 April 2004

Martin, the protagonist psychiatrist, has a head full of Latin names and is obsessively in love with his impenetrably beautiful but physically flawed wife, Lucy. She is also a psychiatrist and a specialist in pain management. Lucy is a “trophy wife” and Martin is bringing her home to Adelaide (think churches and zoo murders) to show her off. He is particularly keen to introduce her to his oldest friend Felix, a grumpy old surgeon, who years ago turned his back on the Establishment and went bush to work with the Aboriginals, being initiated into the Japalarri people along the way. Felix is dying of hepatitis-related hepatoma that he contracted from a young boy who died as a result of his drunkenness. He is tormented by the boy’s death and seeks penance (or is it pain relief) from his friend’s subsequent agony. He also wants to travel into the desert to find a place to die, a sinkhole that is a special place for his Dreaming. In one last unbearable stretch of friendship he wants company. Martin and Lucy, armed with morphine, oxygen and a disappearing mask of propriety, accompany him on his journey, and nothing is the same again.

  • Christine Hampshire


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