The Erratics by Vicki Laveau-Harvie

the erratics book cover

Judges' Comments 

Set in the province of Alberta, Canada, The Erratics is the story of the author’s parents — of a mother who is hospitalised after a lifetime of undiagnosed but increasingly evident mental illness and of a father who has been kept prisoner by his wife in their home. When the father is finally freed from her controlling clutches, he slides into dementia.

In taut, often deeply poetic prose, and not without humour, Laveau-Harvie details the bizarre decline of her parents’ last years and the varying agony of herself and her sister as they attempt to deal with the situation. The book’s second half imbues the memoir with an additional humanity as the author deftly captures the pain that an offspring experiences with the death of a parent — the emotional untangling of their connection to them as well as the physical dismantling of what they leave behind.