Call Boomerang Books 1300 36 33 32

Description - Useful by Debra Oswald

Sullivan Moss is useless. Once a charming underachiever, he's now such a loser that he can't even commit suicide properly. Waking up in hospital after falling the wrong way on a rooftop, he comes to a decision. He shouldn't waste perfectly good organs just because they're attached to his head. After a life of regrets, Sully wants to do one useful thing: he wants to donate a kidney to a stranger. As he scrambles over the hurdles to become a donor, Sully almost accidentally forges a new life for himself. Sober and employed, he makes new friends, not least radio producer Natalie and her son Louis, and begins to patch things up with old ones, like his ex-best mate Tim. Suddenly, everyone wants a piece of him. But altruism is not as easy as it seems. Just when he thinks he's got himself together, Sully discovers that he's most at risk of falling apart. From the creator of Offspring comes a smart, moving and wry portrait of one man's desire to give something of himself. 'I don't know when I have had the absolute pleasure of immersing myself in a novel as rich and rewarding as Useful. With gimlet eye and boundless heart, Debra Oswald pulls together the threads of disparate lives, including an old dog, a suicidal loser, a narcissistic movie star and a crew of Khmer asbestos removers. Their fates entwine in a plot that is by turns dark and light, brimming with insight, mesmerising, and above all, true. This novel is more than useful, it's absolutely essential.' Geraldine Brooks 'Debra Oswald is the master of character; no one escapes the truth yet no one is beyond redemption. Useful tossed my emotions around like a summer salad, with characters that are tragically broken yet supremely loveable.' Eddie Perfect 'With characteristic charm, wit and humanity, Debra Oswald has crafted an irresistible story of metamorphosis, as Sullivan Moss evolves from a self-described bag of spare parts to something altogether more whole - and way more complicated. As Sullivan opts in to the mess that is life, Oswald makes the most of every twist and turn, while also finding room for poignancy, insightfulness and the ups and downs that are part of being human.' Nick Earls

Buy Useful by Debra Oswald from Australia's Online Independent Bookstore, Boomerang Books.

Book Details

ISBN: 9780670077823
ISBN-10: 0670077828
Format: Paperback
(234mm x 155mm x 26mm)
Pages: 320
Imprint: Viking Australia
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
Publish Date: 28-Jan-2015
Country of Publication: Australia

Other Editions - Useful by Debra Oswald

YouTube Videos - Useful by Debra Oswald

Useful - Debra Oswald, book trailer

Sullivan Moss has made a mess of everything, even his attempt to throw himself off a building. Recovering, he comes to a decision: he's going to do one, single useful thing. From Deb Oswald, creator of hit Australian TV series Offspring, comes a smart, moving and wry portrait of one man's desire to give something of himself.


Book Reviews - Useful by Debra Oswald

» Have you read this book? We'd like to know what you think about it - write a review about Useful book by Debra Oswald and you'll earn 50c in Boomerang Bucks loyalty dollars (you must be a Boomerang Books Account Holder - it's free to sign up and there are great benefits!)

Write Review

Book Review: Useful by Debra Oswald - Reviewed by (04 Feb 2015)

“A homeless, unemployed, unloved man, overweight, under-muscled, greasy-haired, pasty-skinned, his forehead scabbed and bruised from the fall, one eyeball stained red thanks to a burst blood vessel, wearing paper underwear, over-eager like a panting Labrador, babbling at her about giving his kidney away to a stranger. Why would anyone accept an organ from such a man?”

Useful is the first adult novel by Australian author, playwright, and television scriptwriter, Debra Oswald. As Sullivan Moss recovers in hospital from an unsuccessful suicide attempt, a routine enquiry from a nurse gives him an idea: he will make up for his hitherto useless existence by anonymously donating a kidney to a stranger. His determination to see this one thing through amazes those who know him. His ex-wife, despite having every reason to abandon him, manages to find him a place to live. Natalie, divorced mother of Louis and a producer of breakfast radio, needs someone to house-sit her recently-deceased father’s flat and look after his ageing dog, and Sully fills that vacancy.

As Sully makes an earnest effort to satisfy the donor requirements, he finds himself making new friends and reconnecting with old ones. Extended sobriety is a new experience for Sully that changes his perspective: “One of the many disadvantages of sobriety was this feeling of separation from people frolicking together on planet Pleasantly Pissed while he orbited on Space Shuttle Sober. He didn’t feel critical of the drinkers, but more benignly observant, like a wildlife documentary maker”, although there are lapses: “He needed an alcohol-sensitive lock on his phone, like the breathalyser ones they put on car ignitions. Given that such a device did not exist, he should avoid drinking at all, so there would be less risk of dumb phone calls that upset good people.”

As her characters deal with a myriad of life’s challenges: death, suicide, sex, psychiatric evaluations, raising children, finding a purpose in life, alcoholism, a corpse in the wrong place, asbestos removal and cancer, Oswald manages to include plenty of humour, much of it quite black. Readers are warned that, when her characters get agitated, some resort to expletives, and also indulge in some rather disappointing behaviour, demonstrating just how flawed human beings can be.

Oswald gives the reader a plot that is entirely believable, with a twist or two to keep it interesting. She includes some marvellous imagery: “The business worries that clamped him down during the day were put aside, and with his family around him, he expanded, like bread dough rising. Joyful bread dough” and “She imagined her mother’s words fluttering down over her like ashy fall-out from a chemical weapon attack, seeping through her skin to eat away at her guts” and “An encounter with Natalie’s mother was like having lemon juice tossed in your eye” are just a small sample.

This is a wonderful story: clever and laugh-out-loud funny, but also heart-warming and with enough emotion to choke up the most callous reader. Oswald’s screen- and play-writing experience is apparent on every page and readers will look forward to more from this talented author. A brilliant read.


Author Biography - Debra Oswald

Debra Oswald Debra Oswald is a writer for stage, television and fiction. She is co-creator and head writer of the successful TV series Offspring which recently finished its fifth season. Debra won the 2011 NSW Premier's Literary Award for the Offspring tele-movie script and the 2014 AACTA for Best TV Screenplay for the final episode of series 4. Her other television credits include award-winning episodes of Police Rescue, Palace of Dreams, The Secret Life of Us, Sweet and Sour and Banana in Pyjamas. Debra's stage plays have been produced around Australia. Gary's House, Sweet Road and The Peach Season were all shortlisted for the NSW Premier's Literary Award and Dags has had many productions. Gary's House has been performed in translation in Denmark and Japan. Mr Bailey's Minder was produced in Philadelphia in 2008. Debra has written three plays for young audiences - Skate, Stories in the Dark (NSW Premier's Play Award in 2008) and House on Fire. She is the author of three 'Aussie Bite' books and six novels for teenage readers.

Customers Also Bought

Boomerang Books customers who bought Useful by Debra Oswald also bought the following titles:

Books By Debra Oswald

Whole Bright Year by Debra Oswald
Paperback, January 2018
$27.71
Dags by Debra Oswald
Paperback, March 2016
$19.31
Useful by Debra Oswald
Paperback, February 2016
$20.69
House on Fire by Debra Oswald
Paperback, May 2011
$20.69