Jolley Prize 2014 (Shortlist): 'The Art of Life' by Faith Oxenbridge

Inherit your great-grandmother’s wild red hair and hear the boys sing Griffin’s Gingernuts are so spicy when you walk past the Four Square court. Feel like a freak. Ask your mother if you can cut your hair short when you start high school and hear her say but it’s your best asset. Worry about your assets. Regret not cutting it on the first day of school when your form teacher christens you Orphan Annie and everyone laughs. Eat your vegemite sandwiches alone at one end of a wobbly bench outside the gym and ignore the fat girl wobbling it at the other end. Howl into the headwind as you bike home from school. Hate your mother when you arrive red-eyed, wind-whipped and she sighs. Wish you were Orphan Annie.

Read the rest of this article by subscribing to ABR Online for as little as $10 a month.

We offer a range of subscription options, including print, which can be found by clicking here. If you are already a subscriber, enter your username and password in the ‘Log In’ section in the top right-hand corner of the screen.

If you require assistance, contact us or consult the Frequently Asked Questions page.

Faith Oxenbridge

Faith Oxenbridge

Faith Oxenbridge is a Creative Writing and Journalism teacher from Christchurch, New Zealand, who writes fiction in her spare time. She started writing when her children were older and she owned a bookshop, but realised she wasn’t cut out for retail; instead of smiling at her customers she found herself turning them into characters. She went back to University and completed a MFA in Creative Writing. Her stories have been published in the NZ Listener, the Six Pack 2, Best NZ Fiction 2006, Turbine, the Sunday Star Times and Christchurch Press. She was runner-up in the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Competition 2012, a finalist in the Victoria University Overland Competition in 2013, and won the (NZ) Sunday Star Times Competition in 2013 with her story, What you Have. She is currently compiling her stories into a collection for publication and is writing a novel. (photo courtesy of Fairfax)

Comments (9)

  • Leave a comment

    It took me a while to get into the writing style. But stick with it and you'll come to love it. Very good story, brilliant ending sentence.

    Saturday, 20 February 2016 13:14 posted by  Bevan
  • Leave a comment

    Goosebump buffet or rather goosebump seven courses meal.

    Tuesday, 21 July 2015 11:46 posted by  Maxwell Chong
  • Leave a comment

    Wonderful. I found the style grating at first and was tempted to stop, but am so glad I didn't. I grew to love it. The most memorable story I've read for quite a while. It will stay with me and I will read it again.

    Sunday, 05 July 2015 12:13 posted by  Calypso
  • Leave a comment

    The style matches the content. Everything a verb, a doing, an action, in spite of life being out of control. Finally losing control, is where the inner command monologue ends, so the ending works perfectly. Impressed.

    Thursday, 30 April 2015 17:03 posted by  Soren
  • Leave a comment

    This is just gorgeous. So true, so real. Every woman is in this story at some point. Thank you.

    Friday, 17 April 2015 19:15 posted by  Naomi
  • Leave a comment

    Innovative and well-crafted, but overall it's a little too smug and showy -- even glib -- for my taste. The style grated after a while. It's not really as poignant as it pretends. Amid the sardonic humor, I feel I lost the person along the way -- or maybe never really got to know her.

    Friday, 27 February 2015 14:02 posted by  Steven J. Lowery
  • Leave a comment

    This was one of the most beautiful, truthful, realistic stories ever. Different -but nice- style of writing.

    Saturday, 07 February 2015 11:26 posted by  Keturah Cutting
  • Leave a comment

    best story i have ever read- and I have read enough for my eyes to collapse and die like melbourne cup favourite- should have won by country mile, a furlong, a couple of pixels.

    Wednesday, 05 November 2014 16:04 posted by  Michael Heffernan
  • Leave a comment

    Such beautiful, poignant waste and wreckage and unfairness. An excellent story with a worthy ending.

    Monday, 01 September 2014 21:59 posted by  Glen Hunting

Leave a comment

Please note that all comments must be approved by ABR and comply with our Terms & Conditions.

NB: If you are an ABR Online subscriber or contributor, you will need to login to ABR Online in order to post a comment. If you have forgotten your login details, or if you receive an error message when trying to submit your comment, please email your comment (and the name of the article to which it relates) to We will review your comment and, subject to approval, we will post it under your name.