The Uncanny Love of Jimmy Panagakos draws you in with a compelling image of the central characters - Jimmy (of the title fame) and the unnamed, unfeeling, unfaithful, yet flirty Milk Bar. Yes, Milk Bar. This rustic, maligned and dishevelled building is anthropomorphised as the story progresses and is the obsessive object of Jimmy’s affections.
It quickly becomes apparent that Jimmy has a fetish-type relationship with a few inanimate objects; his first love being ‘Broomie’. If you’re looking for themes of redemption, comeuppance or ‘poor-kid-does-good’, this is not your cup of tea. Jimmy’s is a story of obsession and the inability to detach himself from this strange engagement with his surroundings, particularly the Milk Bar – a shop passed onto him by his family. Hill holds her readers in a suspension made from milkshake, tears, semen, and the gritty, grimy life in the suburbs lining Parramatta Road; though some light relief can be found in the characters of Ella and Aunty Fi who epitomise a desire to move on. Overall, I enjoyed the read. The chapters are short, flicking between distant past, recent past and almost present, making The Uncanny Love of Jimmy Panagakos ideal for when life doesn’t allow you to indulge in a read-fest.
The Uncanny Love of Jimmy Panagakos is the first book by 2009 Bachelor of Arts in Communication (Social Inquiry)/International Studies graduate Beth Hill. Her writing has also appeared in the 2006 UTS Writers’ Anthology Making Tracks and the magazine Seizure.