Monday, 4 August 2014

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride

“There’s good news and bad news. It’s shrunk. He’s saved. He’s not. He’ll never be. So like it lump it a short breath’s what you’ve got. Jesus in her blood that minute. Rejoice sacred heart of Christ. But we’ll never be rid do you understand? he says. Shush now she says shush.”

Should you feel, perhaps, that your life is severely missing some misery, then, might I recommend that this is the book for you!

I love language, and I like it used correctly. Certainly there are some exceptions – Irvine Welsh I’m looking at you. In his case, I get that the strange concoctions of new words reflect the accent and place of the characters. Here, in a somewhat similar vein, the pain and torment of the “half-formed thing’ that is our protagonist, expresses herself in a jumble of words that mimic her sufferings and confusion. On an intellectual level, I can certainly appreciate the brilliance of that, as a reader, however, it served to really drive home the muck and despair til I could hardly go on.

If art is something that moves you to emotion, then this is that. Yet, it is hardly the sort of novel you would enjoy reading on a plane for example. I know this from experience. The photo above was taken at the departure gate.

Seriously, turbulence was beginning to become an uplifting experience in contrast to the messed up antics of the book. After a sordid childhood and the Rolf Harris like goings on of her uncle, is it any surprise that the girl is hell bent on self-destruction? Probably not, yet she drags the reader, kicking and screaming at a frenetic pace, querying what fresh horror will appear on the next page.

Now you might think my score is a little savage in light of the book’s critical acclaim elsewhere. I freely admit, I can appreciate what’s going on, without enjoying it and I really didn’t enjoy it. I mean I actually felt the need to shower after it, and hide the razor blades while I was in there. It is bleak, dark, without hope and, in case there was any doubt,… depressing.

2 out of 5 readers of such sad fiction will be forced to take solace in whiskey.

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