"Bridget Jones meets 'Twin Peaks'" is the pitch, aptly enough as author Barrett (Rush Oh!) is also an award-winning filmmaker. Breast cancer survivor Eleanor, single after a bad break-up, decides it's time to escape Sydney, judgy support groups and her mother, and takes a job as a teacher in remote Talbingo, where her predecessor disappeared under mysterious circumstances. Talbingo turns out to be weird and slightly creepy, but things proceed to get a lot worse, as Eleanor records in a series of blog posts. The very definition of darkly funny.
...this is a baffling book. Part thriller, sometimes veering wildly towards fantasy, with a heavy dash of romcom and a sardonic kind of farce, it defies convention... the beginning of the novel is a shockingly funny and satisfying story of one woman’s illness, the latter part is confusing and very odd. Perhaps that is Barrett’s point – that life is ridiculous and uncategorisable and doesn’t wrap up with any neat answers... After reading this book, you’ll be none the wiser, but read it you should; it’s laugh-out-loud horrible and perfectly nuts – you’ll never find anything like it again.
...tackles the absurdity of surviving cancer in a zany, energetic tale that doesn’t quite come off... highly original in concept...funny in parts... Barrett is brilliant on the details of diagnosis and the isolation her protagonist feels at the hands of doctors... The whipsmart humour and pinpoint detail of the early chapters gets lost... the chaos needs to be underpinned by a sharper voice... cumulative effect is that not enough care has been taken with language or editing... lines like these that sparkle from the ditches: “Because you’re either growing a baby or you’re growing a tumour. You can’t do both.”
This bonkers, rather brilliant comedy is written in the form of a blog... The Bus On Thursday takes the 19th-century literary conceit of a woman going mad in the face of repressive social expectations and updates it with brio for the 21st century.
Life gets troubling very quickly for Eleanor in Shirley Barrett’s The Bus on Thursday... her woes pile up as she discovers that not only did her predecessor vanish unexpectedly, but the handsome vacuum cleaner salesman she has fallen for might not be all he seems. Eleanor details her every last feeling in her blog – “Why blog? Good question! To which I can only respond: well, it is better than scrapbooking”; she is an entertainingly sardonic companion on this blackly humorous journey into horror