Reviewed by SUSANA CARRYER
Falling from the arms of one man into the next, Diane Brown is not the tanned goddess of an airport romance. Rather, she is a shy, unhappy, slightly overweight 23-year-old, trying to find herself by travelling the world, in the time-honoured fashion of young New Zealanders.
Brown captures all the bittersweet angst of the young adult, but balances this youthful melodrama with the reflection of a mature adult.
Liars & Lovers is the story of the author's OE, written almost 30 years after the event. Seeking solace from her loneliness through sexual encounters, the young traveller bounces from one relationship to another, collecting scars, some exquisite memories, and possibly a little wisdom.
Thirty years later, she uses these experiences to explore the process by which the egotistical child becomes an adult who is "at last able to co-exist with another adult. To be independent and yet to depend. To trust and be trusted".
Much of the memoir is based on the diary she kept during those travels. References to the diary provide a starting point from which Brown explores the concepts of memory, records and the writing process. Frustrated at times by her own lack of description, she reflects on the difference between what seems important at the time, and what we desperately want to remember later.
An enjoyable and evocative account of the journey, which is remarkably similar to the one scores of young New Zealanders still undertake, Liars & Lovers is also a thoughtful reflection on remembering and inventing personal identity.
* Susana Carryer is an Auckland theologian.