Fables Queer and Familiar
Margaret Merrilees, Chia Moan
There is so much joy in this pithy collection of 52 short ‘fables’. Starting life as at the online serial ‘Adelaide Days’ and broadcast by Radio Adelaide, the fables – one for each week of the year – are delightful, laugh-out-loud snapshots of the lives of ‘lesbian grannies’ Anne and Julia, their extended family, friends, and community.
The grannies are longtime activists who keep their sharp eyes on politics. They’re outraged by the treatment of refugees. They’re keen judges of the hats at Adelaide Writers’ Week. This is Adelaide through a leftie, lesbian, ageing, and activist lens, full of local references and locations; from the Markets, to beach trips to the Yorke Peninsula, Haighs, the Christmas Pageant and WOMAD.
It’s a wry, affectionate look at “this small dry city on a narrow plain, next to an unspectacular gulf”, as well a politically-engaged story of family, longterm love, ageing, and childhood. Merrilees’ light-hearted style makes it a delight to dip in and out of the fables, or read them all in a single sitting.
By the end you may find yourself agreeing with Alison Bechdel: “I wish I could live in the hilarious, delightful, and very queer world of these Fables”. There’s always its follow-up, Further Fables Queer and Familiar.