June 3rd, 2014

rose muse, seasonal muse

Book 113: A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride

Book 113: A Girl is a Half Formed Thing.
Author: Eimear McBride, 2013.
Genre: Period Fiction. Ireland. Literary. Post-Modern.
Other Details: Paperback. 205 pages.

Eimear McBride's award-winning début novel tells the story of a young woman's relationship with her brother, and the long shadow cast by his childhood brain tumour. Not so much a stream of consciousness, as an unconscious railing against a life that makes little sense, and a shocking and intimate insight into the thoughts, feelings and chaotic sexuality of a vulnerable and isolated protagonist, to read A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing is to plunge inside its narrator's head, experiencing her world at first hand. This isn't always comfortable - but it is always a revelation. - synopsis from UK publisher's website.

Knowing in advance that the structure of this novel was experimental and rather stream-of-consciousness, I took the same approach as I did with Will Self's Umbrella, which was to dive into said stream and immerse myself in it. Thankfully it was a short novel as certainly its fragmented style was challenging and then some.

I wasn't that convinced that this was a love story about a sister and brother or even that the girl was capable of love. She seemed very cut off from her emotions and from early adolescence her way of connecting with others was mainly experienced as a series of anonymous sexual encounters. As the novel was set during an unspecified time in the late 20th Century (likely 1980s pre-AIDS given the 'Star Wars' and Commodore computer references) maybe this was apt. However, it did seem dysfunctional with little to no self-awareness of how desperate it all seemed to be.

There were times when I felt that I was reading a prose poem, quite apt given that the UK publisher, Faber and Faber, does publish modern poets. I returned to the novel a second time, reading some passages aloud and was struck by the power this evoked. It reinforced my sense that this novel was poetic in structure and would very much suit an audio edition.

Still it is very unlikely that I would have read this novel if it hadn't been on the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction short-list as I while I don't mind tackling challenging novels, I prefer them less experimental. It just wasn't my kind of novel even though some of the imagery was beautiful. I feel the phrase "we'll live there for a thousand Lir years" will stay with me a long time.

14: Suddenly Last Summer

Originally posted by audrey_e at Book 14: Suddenly Last Summer
14 SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER Tennessee Williams (USA, 1958)


Following the mysterious death of her cousin, Catherine is threatened to be lobotomized by his mother so she can never tell the truth about his homosexuality.

Suddenly Last Summer is a brief one-act play that deals with two of Williams' favorite themes, insanity and homosexuality.
The way the innocent Catherine is treated as an insane patient is heartbreaking, especially when we take into account the life of Williams' sister. As for homosexuality, I've never read a more violent depiction of it, not even in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.
I would not recommend Suddenly Last Summer to someone who's not already familiar with the author's work, but those who already admire his work can appreciate the singular treatment of familiar themes.

smirk by geekilicious

Book 46

The Auspicious Troubles of Chance (The Auspicious Troubles of Love, #1)The Auspicious Troubles of Chance by Charlie Cochet

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I won this in a giveaway a while back but I am slower than slow to get to ebooks. I don't usually read contemporary fiction but I guess that this is actually historical (I guess I should say I don't usually read things that aren't mysteries, UF/SF/Fantasy). So I wasn't sure what to expect. But as my doctor took forever to get to me today I read the whole thing in two hours. Been awhile since I've gotten that sucked into a story.

I really loved Chance. I'm a sucker for a kid with a tragic past (what that says about me, I'm not sure I want to know). So I was drawn right into Chance's story (and Johnnie's later on in the story). Chance's hard start to life gets better when he's taken in by theater performers and he grows up within the Cleopatra Theater, until the day he loses everything.

The scars of that run deep and he pisses away a lot of chances, including those of stardom thanks to his good looks and pleasant voice. Drinking, drugging he finally tries to lose himself in the foreign legion. What he finds there is Commandant Jacky Valentine, who is not just a good commander but also one to hold out a hand to the scarred and battered by life young men that he meets.

Jacky wants more than just to help Chance. He has fallen for him but Chance isn't ready for that emotional connection. He continues to lash out, do stupid things etc even though he is sleeping with Jacky. Even gets himself shot a couple of times putting a strain on his relationship with Jacky and the other young men, like Johnnie who Chance recognizes is a lot like him, angry at life.

Just as he commits himself to changing, Chance might just lose everything again.

I really like Chance's voice (and since this is first person, that's the only voice you get). His snarky view of Jacky's good heart is amusing even though you occasionally want to kick him in the pants. The ending is sweet. About the only thing that didn't quite work for me was right after Chance got shot the first time but that's minor. I truly enjoyed this.