The eighth book from Heather Rose, Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here, begins with childhood memories, dark matter musings and Tasmanian bushfires. After learning how quickly death can come, she acquaints herself with the permanent wound of grief, observing the differing means by which human beings deal with loss. Rose, who sees prose as a pathway into the unknown, writes her readers into the darkest crevices of experiential memory – from the deaths of her brother and grandad (and the dream that foretold them) to the guilt of not somehow preventing them.
A childhood of occult curiosity melds into an adventurous adolescence. Rose moves to Asia, travels around Bali, and uses heroin in Koh Samui where drug use is a capital offence. At 19, she moves to a Bangkok monastery, where she studies Buddhism with a monk named Chai. This taste of Buddhist life brings silence, meditation and an awakening awareness to Rose’s quest for meaning. Eventually, she is called back into the mainstream world and experiences the inevitable overwhelm of sudden freedom. She journeys with fellow travellers, herds goats, falls in love and meets royalty. Eventually, a return to Australia brings burgeoning pregnancy, reassuring apparitions and the magic of modern motherhood.
A few years after the birth of her child, Rose visits a sweat lodge where she discovers the power of sun dancing. Dispersing energy between her growing family, a career in advertising and annual trips overseas, she successfully pursues the connection she craves while spending time in the US’s national parks, reservations and motels. Rose’s pipe-carrying proclivities precipitate a series of visions and signs, leading to a loss-and-reclamation of self. The disembodiment, dislocation and disorientation of this period is written with an intense sense of being, and undertones of profound vulnerability.
In her 20s, 30s and beyond, Rose experiences the physical and emotional extremes of human life, variously taking shape in the form of chronic pain, glacial seawater and 70-kilometre treks through the Tasmanian forest with a newly-teenaged son. Rose reframes suffering by removing value judgements – except where she must, in which case the gift must swim into focus. The unearthly lived experience of this fascinating mother/writer/person extends beyond the memoir paradigm, crossing a figurative border between resisting and conducting the forces of life.
In a memoir that is part travelogue, part spiritual awakening, the ripples of Rose’s words flow across each page like rings of hard-won wisdom. More than just a series of musings on chronic pain and prophetic dreams, this book is a meditative doorway towards acceptance. It will resonate with truth-seekers, life-livers and insatiable makers-of-meaning.
Nothing Bad Ever Happens Here by Heather Rose
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Pages: 256 pages
Release Date: 1 November 2022