Eggshell Skull (Bri Lee, A&U)
Blending memoir with social commentary, Bri Lee’s Eggshell Skull is a book about trauma, culpability and retribution. Unlike recently published personal narratives that are used as a launchpad to explore broader societal questions—Australia’s relationship with alcohol in Elspeth Muir’s Wasted and the shifting signposts of adulthood in Briohny Doyle’s Adult Fantasy—Eggshell Skull is a meditation on rape culture and the fallibility of the legal system that dovetails into Lee’s personal experience of being a victim of child sex abuse. In her recollections from her time as a judge’s associate in Queensland, innocuous everyday items such as Hills Hoists, trampolines and model aeroplanes assume sinister meanings synonymous with the pervasiveness of the abuse girls and women suffer. Case after case of acquitted offenders accused of heinous acts unfold alongside Lee’s waxing and waning resolve to bring her perpetrator to court as she witnesses how women are continually let down by the legal system. Blow-by-blow details of the confronting cases coupled with the writer’s trauma make for a relentless read, but the book is at its strongest when its charting the minutiae of how women are gaslit by men and the system alike.
Sonia Nair is a Melbourne-based writer and critic