Excerpt from Dark Roots by Cate Kennedy, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

Dark Roots

by Cate Kennedy

Dark Roots
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Paperback:
    Feb 2008, 224 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Lucia Silva

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

You've got to stop this. But you can't help yourself. While you're in the hair salon buying shampoo for colour-treated hair, you find yourself making an appointment for a leg wax. You will be hairless. Forty is the new thirty. You will be smooth, controlled, gym-toned, with the body of a woman in her late twenties, lushly in her prime and way ahead of the game.

And the voice you hear now as you sit in the salon leafing through the magazines before your appointment will be a whiny, accusing one, nitpicking and obsessive, poking you on the shoulder saying: Look, Goldie Hawn, nearly sixty. Look, Sharon Stone, slim and elegant, had a baby at forty-four.

The receptionist says, 'This your first visit?' Her fingernails are curved like talons, alternately purple and yellow, and you see they are fake and stuck on with superglue. They are so long she can hardly write — but she can hardly write anyway, breathing laboriously as she prints your details in big Grade Five letters. Then into the back room and up onto the crackling paper sheet. Butcher's paper for a slab of meat. You make nervous small talk.

'Do you wax guys?' you blurt.

'All the time.' The girl stirs wax implacably, arranges things on the counter like a dental nurse. 'You'd be surprised.' You lie back. She chats on.

'Guys come in here, want their backs waxed, their arses.'

'You're kidding.'

'Nope. I do everything. You wouldn't believe it. A week before Mardi Gras, or when there's a bike race or the City to Surf, I'm booked out.'

Suddenly there is a hot stroke of wax on your shin, a pause, then blinding pain.

'Ow. Jesus.'

'Haven't had them done for a while, that's why it hurts more.'

'Actually this is my first time ever.'

'Really? Oh well, it won't take long.'

Another rip that brings tears to your eyes.

'Brazilians are all the go now,' she says. 'You want pain, boy …'

'Don't tell me.'

She tilts your leg, ices on some more wax, rips it away.

'Yep, everything. Completely hairless. Like a Barbie doll.'

You shudder and lie back, willing it to be over. Like having a cavity drilled, you try to take your thoughts away. Paul, and what he would say if he could see you now. Think then about your first argument, the other night. 'Don't tell me what I'm going to do next,' he'd finally fumed. 'And Jesus, will you just relax and stop worrying about your weight? How much reassurance do you need?'

'I don't need reassurance.'

'Yes, you do. It's so bloody tiring. It's like you've already decided to end it and you're just waiting for me to slip up so you can blame me.'

You'd opened and closed your mouth like a stunned fish. A wave of nausea. You'd clenched your jaw, saying nothing. Don't cry, you'd ordered yourself, don't you dare. Mascara running. Haggard. Lines. Ugly. Old.

'Let's just light a candle then, if you don't want the lamp on,' he'd said later in bed, at his place. And you'd shaken your head, taken the matches from him.

'No,' you'd answered. 'Let's not. Really. I like the dark.'

She's up to your groin and you feel the wax getting daubed around your undies line. She holds the skin taut and pulls. It's excruciating.

'Bloody hell!' you gasp.

'Yeah, the pubic hairs always hurt more — deeper roots.'

'And people have the whole lot ripped out?'

'All the time.'

You look down at the reddened patch and see tiny prick marks of blood appearing where the hairs have been yanked out. It feels like you've had a layer of skin torn off. Like you've been peeled.

'God, how could they stand it?'

She considers, moving her chewing gum around her mouth. 'They reckon it looks clean.' 'Clean?' 'Sexy. Their boyfriends ask 'em to do it, they say.' Rip. She's on the other ankle. Clean, you think.

Excerpted from the short story "Dark Roots" in Dark Roots by Cate Kennedy. © 2006 by Cate Kennedy. Reprinted with the permission of Black Cat, an imprint of Grove/Atlantic Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
  • Book Jacket
    by Tom Jackson
    Growing up in Mumbai in the '70s, I still remember herbs kept fresh in small glasses of water, ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    The Comet Seekers
    by Helen Sedgwick

    A magical, intoxicating debut novel, both intimate and epic.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Next
    by Stephanie Gangi

    Fast-paced, wickedly observant, and haunting in the best sense of the word.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Cruel Beautiful World
    by Caroline Leavitt

    A fast moving page-turner about the naiveté of youth and the malignity of power.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.