Bottling the Forbidden Fruit: Marion Halligan's Fiction
MARION Halligan's writing dwells on the pleasures of daily life, and while readers can readily connect with this celebration of ordinariness, recognising in it patterns of our own existence, such subject matter can also provoke doubt, even distrust. A strain of residual Puritanism in Australian culture means the pursuit of pleasure is still suspect, while continuing doubts as to whether suburbia is an appropriate subject for serious literature can result in writers who explore it being dismissed as bourgeois. Halligan, who insists that 'suburbia is one of the great achievements of the human spirit' (Taste 15), is quite unapologetic about her emphasis on domesticity: 'the domestic is what I know and that's where all the important things happen, birth, death, marriage, all that stuff' (Molloy 117). Along with representing the enticements of suburban life, she also records its dark underside, demonstrating how the apparently ideal suburban enclave is less secure than its inhabitants imagine, and how its exclusivity creates outsiders whose predicaments contrast painfully with the comforts of those within.