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Love, Ghosts and Nose Hair

Love, Ghosts and Nose Hair

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by Steven Herrick

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A special reissue of a bestselling Australian classic from award-winning author Steven Herrick.Jack is an everyday sixteen-year-old boy. He’s obsessed with Annabel, sport and nose hair. He’s also obsessed with a ghost …There’s a ghost in our housein a red evening dress,black stockingsand Mum’s slingback shoes.Her hair whispersover white


A special reissue of a bestselling Australian classic from award-winning author Steven Herrick.Jack is an everyday sixteen-year-old boy. He’s obsessed with Annabel, sport and nose hair. He’s also obsessed with a ghost …There’s a ghost in our housein a red evening dress,black stockingsand Mum’s slingback shoes.Her hair whispersover white shouldersas she dances through the rooms.A bittersweet comedy about the infinite promise of first love and the everlasting sorrow of grief, Love, Ghosts & Nose Hair was shortlisted for the CBCA Book of the Year: Older Readers and New South Wales Premier’s Literary Awards.‘Sad, funny, moving and thoughtful.’ - Magpies

Product Details

University of Queensland Press
Publication date:
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Barnes & Noble
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1 MB

Read an Excerpt

Love, Ghosts and Nose Hair

By Steven Herrick, Jo Hunt

University of Queensland Press

Copyright © 1996 Steven Herrick
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7022-5899-2



    My name

    My name is Jack.
    Not Jackson
    or Jackie;
    not Jack-in-the-box,
        laughing like an echo;
    not hit the road Jack;
    not Jack the rat
    or Jack, go wash your face,
    or Jack rabbit,
        lifting my head to get shot,
    or Jacqueline;
    not Jack of all trades,
        master of none,
    or car Jack
    or Jack Frost;
    not Jackpot,
        the name of a loser,
    or Jackboot
    or Jacktar
    or Jackknife
    or Jacket –
        something to wrap yourself in;
    not just Jack
    or Jack of hearts


    My family (the dream one)

    There's my dad,
    dressed in his best blue suit,
    counting his money: $10,000, $11,000, $12,000?
    My mum –
    she'll be home soon –
    she's starring in another movie
    so she's acting late.
    And my sister? She's away.
    She's a nun, helping the poor in Africa.
    They had her on 60 Minutes last week;
    Saint Sister they call her.
    My brother?
    He's outside polishing his Porsche.
    And me?
    I'm just starting my Maths homework.
    I love Maths.

    My family (the real one)

    There's my dad,
    snoring in his chair, still in his work clothes,
    sleeping without a shower for the third day running.
    My mum –
    she's wearing those pink curlers in her hair –
    looks like a space cadet to me.
    And my sister's in the bathroom.
    She's dyeing her hair orange.
    I think it'll suit her.
    My brother?

    He's in jail, we expect him home next year.
    And I'm here writing this, watching the footy on TV
    and doing everything possible to avoid

    My family (the truth)

    Actually, truth be known,
    they're both wrong.
    I live with my dad
    and my sister.
    My dad works at a newspaper.
    He says he tells 'edited lies' all day.
    He's a journalist,
    which means I never see him.
    He leaves home at 7am
    and returns at night,
    smelling of cigarette smoke and defeat.
    He walks in,
    reheats the dinner
    and asks me if I've done my homework.
    He's okay though.
    He talks to me on the weekends
    and that's enough for a parent.
    My sister I like!
    Yeah I know,
    you're not supposed to like your sister,
    but Desiree's great.
    She left school last year,
    went right out and got a job.
    She's assistant manager of a bookshop.
    She says they'll stock my first book
    when it's published.
    She's nineteen.
    Tall, dark eyes, long black hair
    this faint trace of soft light hair on her top lip!
    That's what I like about her:
    she's upfront.
    Other girls might wax it
    but not Des.
    I tell her it looks sexy
    and I think it does – for my sister!
    So Des and me
    get on fine.
    She even talks to me
    about Ms Curling
    and Annabel Browning.

    Sex, sport and nose hair

    I'm a normal guy.
    An average sixteen-year-old.
    I think about sex, sport and nose hair.
    Sex mostly.
    How to do it,
    how to get someone to do it with me,
    who I should ask for advice.
    My friends are useless,
    they know nothing.
    We sit, at lunchtime,
    trying to make sense of that
    impenetrable mystery called girls.
    I've thought of asking Ms Curling –
    she's the type who'd look me in the eye
    and talk straight –
    but I could never hold her stare.
    I'd start dribbling or blushing or coughing
    or worse:
    I'd get an erection!
    They happen at the worst times.
    In the bus,
    in Science class.
    I spent all Friday night thinking I must be
    perverted to get excited during Science!
    So, I can't ask my teachers or friends.
    It's so long since he had sex
    he'd have trouble remembering.
    I'd be better asking him
    about nose hair.

    She'll tell me ...

    Desiree on sex

    'Des, I want to know about sex.'

        'Like what?'

    'Like how, why, when and who with.'

    'How is simple. Hands, lips,
    kissing, touching.
    Why? Because it feels good
    and costs nothing, except
    for the condom.
    When? When Dad's not home.
    Or on the weekend, somewhere nice,
    like the hut near Megalong Creek.
    Who with? Can't help you, sorry.
    Why not ask Annabel Browning on a date?
    You keep talking about her ?'
    Trust Desiree to answer
    everything about sex in about fifty words
    and bring up Annabel Browning.

    Another poem on sex, sport and nose hair

    Sex is late-night games on the computer
        thinking, 'There must be better things to do.'

    Sex is the morning newspaper crimes,
        with my dad shaking his head
        saying, 'What a world, what a world.'
    Sex is with a condom
        or so the school counsellor says.
    Sex is the beach in summer,
        the smell of suntan oil,
        the long train ride home, alone,
        reading a book.
    Sex is acne, greasy hair and shopping
        for the Hollywood gloss of magazines
        and movies.
    Sport is as much energy as sex,
        yet half the fun, I imagine.
    Sport is the only time
        you'd get me wrapping my arms
        around Peter Blake's legs!
    Sport is the way we decide who should be
        the school captain.
    Sport is money, broken noses and played
        by guys with thick necks!
    Nose hair is my destiny.
    Nose hair will prevent me from having sex
        until I'm too old to care.
    Nose hair is the first thing I check in the morning.
    Nose hair bristles in the afternoon wind.
    Nose hair keeps my mind off girls, Maths
        and the adventure of sleeping.

    A writer

    I'm going to be a writer.
    I decided
    while Ms Curling, my Art teacher,
    had my head cradled in her arms,
    wiping my brow
    with a warm towel.
    We were surrounded by
    twenty-one fellow students, all in football gear,
    and two less concerned teachers.
    It seems my face and someone's elbow
    had a close encounter.
    The result: Ms Curling's Chanel No5
    wafting through
    my newly broken nose.
    Maybe it was this
    and her concerned caress,
    or the thought
    of another fifteen games
    left in the season
    that decided it ?
    I'm going to be a writer.
    Beat the typewriter
    not my mates.
    No more changeroom jokes on muscles
    or competitions for the smelliest socks.
    I'm retiring,
    joining the guys on the outer.
    I'm going to wear dark clothes
    and an intense expression.

    If nothing else,
    I hope it will attract the girls.

    The great poem

    I have just written a great poem.
    A classic.
    One that's so good
    university professors will read it, badly,
    in front of hundreds of students
    twenty years
        after I die
    to prove to the world
    what a jewel,
    what a gift,
    what a gem
        I gave,
    what a poet I was.
    Here in my Blue Mountains garret,
    I light another imaginary cigarette
        to celebrate
    death and the poem.
    I'm sending it to every publisher in the land.
    I want them to fight for it.
    I'm sitting at my desk trying to choose the pen
    I'll use to sign the contracts
        to sign the movie rights.
    I'm sorry it's night, or I'd ring the chat shows
    to arrange to read it live to the nation!
    Ms Curling, my dad, Desiree
    will shake their heads in disbelief.
        A great poem from 'what's-his-name ?'

    Love is like a gobstopper

    Love is like a gobstopper.
    It's true:
    you spend all your childhood
    wanting that perfect, round, life-giving,
    never-ending ball of sweetness.
    You look through the shop window,
        your mouth waters,
        legs shake,
        eyes go in and out of focus,
    until that desired gobstopper is yours.
        You hold it,
        cherish it,
    kiss it,
    dream about it,
    sleep with it under your pillow,
    wake up sticky
    and hope you'll never be alone.
    But like all lovers,
    you want more.
    So one tempting night,
    you close your eyes,
    push it all the way into your mouth
    and taste its wonder –
        then you swallow it,
        and die!
    Love is like a gobstopper.

    Desiree on facial hair

    It's Jack who's to blame.
    His obsession with facial hair
    has got me looking at my moustache.
    God! He's even got me calling it that
    when it's only light lip hair,
    and now I can't look at anyone
    without noticing the shadow above their mouth.
    Three weeks of research has proven
    that every woman I know has facial hair.
    The only people without it seem to be
    models and movie stars
    and we all know about their grip on reality!
    So I'm keeping mine,
    despite my hairdresser
    mentioning it every time I see her.
    Waxing, electrolysis, dyeing –
    give me a break.
    And besides, I'm beginning to like it.
    Maybe Jack is right,
    maybe it is sexy.
    Let's face it,
    it's certainly more attractive than nose hair.

    Violence in the family

    Today I'm going to watch my dad
        hit a white ball with a big silver stick.
    When he's hit the ball,
    he's going to walk after it
        carrying a whole bag of big sticks.
    When he finds the ball, hiding, grass-stained,
    he's going to hit it again
        until it does what it's told
        and falls in the hole.
    Sometimes it refuses
        and he bashes the big stick
        on the ground in threat.
    Occasionally he drowns the ball in a lake
        and walks silently away.
    Once he stamped his petulant feet,
        quickly looked around,
        alone, and ashamed,
        and gave the little ball an almighty smack.
    After doing this for a few hours,
        he'll put the ball and sticks in the car,
        drive home
        and boast about his game to me and Des.
    One day he asked Desiree to join him,
        but she smiled no
        as she took a knife from the drawer,
        went to the fridge,
        dragged an onion out
        and slowly, deliberately
        cut its head off.


Excerpted from Love, Ghosts and Nose Hair by Steven Herrick, Jo Hunt. Copyright © 1996 Steven Herrick. Excerpted by permission of University of Queensland Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Steven Herrick was born in Brisbane, the youngest of seven children. At school his favourite subject was soccer, and he dreamed of football glory while he worked at various jobs. For the past thirty years he’s been a full-time writer and regularly performs his work in schools throughout the world. He has published twenty-two books. Steven lives in the Blue Mountains with his partner Cathie, a belly dance teacher. They have two adult sons, Jack and Joe.www.stevenherrick.com.au

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Love Ghosts and Nose Hair 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
i think this book is such an interesting story. the themes raised in the text represent the plot beatifully.