In the 1980s in the Melbourne suburb of Fawkner, Josie’s father is drinking himself to an ugly and appalling death. Josie’s mother is a factory machinist, bringing home piecework to keep the family afloat.
And Josie is surviving, or not—self-destructive sex, excessive alcohol, drugs, brutalised friendships.
But her internal monologue—intense, immediate and raw—reveals a heartbreaking portrait of an intelligent young woman desperately looking for a way to make sense of her life, grappling with her feelings of repulsion and love for her father and her longing to be loved.
First published in 1998, Losing It is a vivid and visceral account of 1980s working-class Melbourne and a coming-of-age story that is both familiar and unique, shocking and intimate.
‘I read it in a gulp. I seem to know this girl.’
‘Stark, poetic, truthful, compassionate; self-knowledge comes at a breathtaking pace.’
‘Addictive, powerful and raw, Losing It lays bare the unflinching realities for a teenager trapped in a spiral of self-destruction. Who does not see some of herself in Josie, a heroine for our uncertain times?’
‘While sometimes the past is much better left there, we should be glad that Moira Burke’s Losing It has received a new lease on life…Long before Eimear McBride had the creative spark to appropriate James Joyce and produce her interior monologue masterpiece The Lesser Bohemians, set in London’s dank bedsits and late night bars, it turns out Burke was doing something remarkably similar with Melbourne’s sleazy St Kilda clubs and rowdy Coburg Italian family homes. How could we have missed her?’
‘Incredibly insightful…A meditation on life and how to live and, in the end, how to die.’
‘[Riggs] doesn’t gloss over what lies ahead, and the results are at times hilarious. Heartbreaking, honest and uplifting.’
‘Losing It was never a classic but probably deserves to be…Moira Burke creates an arresting sense of place, startling in its familiarity and strangeness, and is a master of cadence. Her prose has a raw poetic rhythm, the power to constantly surprise and drag you into its flow. To lose Losing It would have been a cultural crime.’