Saturday, September 5, 2009

Saturday Snippet: He Died With a Felafel in His Hand

In the early 1990s John Birmingham lived with 89 people in a dozen different shared houses in Melbourne and Brisbane and kept notes on all of them. He Died With a Felafel in His Hand (Yellow Press, 1994) reveals snippets about the flotslam of housemates that drifted through his various abodes and details some hilarious anecdotes of the goings-on and the weird twilight world of shared multi-unit, rental accommodation. It's one of my favourite books with a guaranteed smirk or belly laugh on every page. What the book reveals is that everybody has strange little quirks, and some have very large ones, that drives other people nuts; and that friendships grow, twist and mutate, alliances form and fracture, and people bond and then fall out spectacularly. It starts thus,

He died with a felafel in his hand. We found him on a bean bag with his chin sitting on the top button of a favourite flannelette shirt. He'd worn the shirt when we'd interviewed him for the empty room a week or so before. We were having one of those bad runs, where you seem to interview about thirty people every day and they are all total zipper heads. We really took this guy in desperation. He wasn't A-list, didn't have a microwave or anything like that, and now both he and his felafel were cold. Our first dead housemate. At least we got some bond off him.

If you've never lived in shared housing and want to know what it can be like or you want to re-live the twilight moments, then this is the book for you. I've just googled the book and see it was made into a stage-play and also a movie - I'll have to check that out sometime.

1 comment:

Dorte H said...

Natural death?

Well, at least it sounds very appealing, crime or not :D