Wasted - A Story of Alcohol, Grief and a Death in Brisbane
In 2009 Elspeth Muir's youngest brother finished his last university exam and went out with some mates to get drunk. Later that night he wandered to the Story Bridge. He put his phone, wallet, T-shirt and thongs on the walkway, climbed over the railing, and jumped thirty metres into the Brisbane River below. Three days passed before police divers pulled his body out of the water. When Alexander had drowned, his blood-alcohol reading was almost 0.3. Why do some of us drink so much, and what happens when we do? Fewer young Australians are drinking heavily, but the rates of alcohol abuse and associated problems - from blackouts to sexual assaults and one-punch killings - are undiminished. Intimate and beautifully told, Wasted mixes memoir with reportage to illuminate the sorrows, and the joys, of drinking. Muir traces her own history with the bottle. She speaks with the father of a boy who died in a drunken attack, and returns to Schoolies on the Gold Coast. And she tries to make sense of her much-loved brother's death.
'Wasted barrels headfirst into the alcohol-soaked heart of Australia to report on our fraught love affair with drinking. With this story, which is as complex, bittersweet and rich as youth itself, Muir uses memoir and journalism for a sobering, heartbreaking exploration of what alcohol gives to young people in Australia, and what it robs us of.' Liam Pieper 'Intricately crafted...An intimate portrait of a grieving family and a nation unable to reconcile itself to the harmful effects of its drinking culture...Reminiscent of writers such as Chloe Hooper and Helen Garner...This book will help you think critically and compassionately about those who seek solace in alcohol.' Books + Publishing 'The prose style of this unheralded writer...is so achingly beautiful and assured, Helen Garner might be pleased to hand her the keys to the creative nonfiction kingdom and ride off into the Carlton sunset.' Saturday Paper '[Muir] gifts readers gorgeously evocative passages which convey a depth of emotion...Wasted is a haunting read.' Readings 'There is no lapse in urgency in Wasted; this conversation is a crucial one to have. Five stars.' Good Reading 'Elspeth writes beautifully and honestly, documenting the shocking loss of an older brother, in such heartbreaking circumstances.' Mamamia
Elspeth Muir is a Brisbane author whose writing has appeared in the Lifted Brow, The Best of the Lifted Brow: Volume One, Griffith Review, Voiceworks and Bumf. She is a postgraduate student at the University of Queensland.