Reading This Week – Worse Things Happen At Sea – William McInnes, Sarah Watt

Anyone who has survived a long-term relationship (and I’m talking decades, not just a year a two) knows it is an adventure in joy, despair and resilience combined with equal parts humour and anger.

This memoir of family life by Aussie Actor/Writer, William McInnes, and his Film Director/Animator wife, Sarah Watt, captures the nuances of daily life endured and enjoyed over 20 years together.

Watt could be speaking of all relationships with her quote “William and I have living together for more than two decades in the same house. In that time we have growing happiness in the same measure as collecting grief”.

Reading this book I found myself laughing out loud on one page, and crying softly at the next. The two writers take turns at completing chapters. William with his laconic, old-fashioned Aussie humour, manages to relay the ordinary into either the beautiful (an ode to the passage of time observed in the love between a father and daughter who live down the street) or the hilarious (when your son frustrates you to screaming point when he loses his entry ticket to a theme park).

While Watt shares candidly the heartbreak that life can throw at you, the death of her first child, her own battle with cancer. Tragic stories told with no self-pity just an honest and open sharing of living through moments of intense sadness.

Throughout the book Watt’s photographs and illustrations add another dimension to the narrative.  Water themed pictures or happy family snaps all seem to complement the stories being told.

Life is complicated, messy, a whirl of hurly, burly activity punctuated by moments of laughter and tears. McInnes and Watt invite us into their life and create a delightful picture of how ordinary lives have a strength and beauty all their own.

November 6, 2011. Postscript: Just read Sarah Watt, 53, has lost her battle with cancer. A sad, sad, loss.

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