About the author

Elspeth Muir

About the book

Judges' report

Elspeth Muir writes, with measured eloquence, of a devastating event: the death of her cherished younger brother who drowned during an alcohol-fuelled celebration of his final university exams. Her family is suspended in a state of painful loss and self-examination. From the particulars of this bereavement, Muir offers an unsparing consideration of the place of alcohol and recklessness in young people’s lives, including her own. If alcohol use is a rite of passage, so is travel, and one of the most engaging aspects of the book is the author’s journey through South America and her keen observations of cultural comparisons. Questions about celebration, bravado and the mitigation of intoxication from within and outside the family are raised in this engaging, generous and multifaceted book.

Further reading


‘The prose style of this unheralded writer, whose previous work has been published in journals such as Voiceworks and The Lifted Brow, is so achingly beautiful and assured, Helen Garner might be pleased to hand her the keys to the creative nonfiction kingdom and ride off into the Carlton sunset.’ The Saturday Paper

‘Wasted is a vital, poignant piece of social commentary, and is essential reading for every Australian who drinks.’ Domenic Amerena, Sydney Morning Herald

‘To write honestly about trauma is no easy feat, but Muir conveys her grief and its inherent elusiveness without pandering to conventional expectations.’ Bronte Coats, Readings

‘In her research-memoir hybrid, Wasted: a Story of Alcohol, Grief and a Death in Brisbane, Elspeth Muir sifts through her own tattered consciousness, hunting for what has been lost. Her younger brother Alexander may well have been in a blackout himself when he left his clothes in a pile on Brisbane’s Story Bridge and either jumped or fell. Discovering which became his sister’s mission.’ Jenny Valentish, The Lifted Brow Online



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