Picnic at Mount Disappointment is a novel written in verse. The text twists across the page in a form that would suit a hand-held, digital screen; however, I read the traditional paperback version. And though it took me a few pages to get used to the format, I have to admit it quickly came to suit the large amount of dialogue Melissa Bruce uses to tell her story. That story is about an intelligent, cynical teenage girl establishing herself within the emotional turmoil of a new family (which includes the “steps” – her father’s new wife and her two children) and new social environments. While not poetic, the language and events Bruce uses to tell the story do reflect the day-to-day stresses of growing up worrying about career, a lack of friends and falling in love; and they paint a sensory picture of the Victorian bush where the novel is set. If you grew up in the 80s, the scattering of references to the music, and social and political events of the time will probably take you straight back to your own teenage angst. But, while the story does move along well, it didn’t stay with me between readings.
Picnic at Mount Disappointment is the award-winning debut novel of Melissa Bruce – a 2009 UTS Master of Arts in Professional Writing graduate.