Sunday, 25 November 2018

Milkman by Anna Burns

"No one has ever come across a cat apologising and if a cat did, it would patently be obvious it was not being sincere.”

When I commenced reading the latest winner of the Man Booker Prize, I was instantly captivated by the first-person narrative. Burns expertly weaves a spell of ever tightening walls. The walls talk; and the perceptions of others can be a death sentence.

Our heroine is being stalked by The Milkman and he is a dangerous man to know. The locals see his attempts to interact with her and believe that she is having an affair with the married man, rather than actively seeking to avoid his clutches. She’s more interested in maybe-boyfriend.

Jogging with her brother in law is a means of escape. She is an outsider reading books and taking French classes, where others fill their days with gossip and violence. Her mother’s inability to believe her is particularly frustrating and initially quite funny. That is until the humour takes on a more dangerous tone. Perhaps that is the most interesting aspect of the novel the black humour that tinges the fight or flight terror of the everyday.

As I read the latter parts of the novel in a piecemeal fashion on my way to and from work, I think it lost something. It was too easy to drift out of the peculiar parlance of the book and having to constantly re-acquaint myself with it was frustrating. That aside, this is a great read and an intriguing character exploration.


5 out of 5 - the dead cat scene is visceral.


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