Jack and Jill
Text Publishing, $29.95 pb, 158 pp, 9781921758355
Australian author Helen Hodgman depicts writing and domestic love as apotheoses of self-annihilation. In Jack and Jill (1978) – Hodgman’s second novel and the second to be reissued by Text Publishing this year, after Blue Skies (1976) – literary imagination acts as a sexual Strangling Fig, and childbearing poses a threat to psychic wherewithal. Mind and body, this stylish short work suggests, are equally appalling, are contradictory, are destructive in combination. Proxies, effigies, and symbolic recurrences abound in the novel, as Hodgman charts her characters’ changing allegiances to sex and art-making in pathological detail.