A Girl is A Half-formed thing: CultureHUB Book Review

A Girl is A Half-formed thing – Eimar McBride

Gripped, thrown, spat out, moved, repulsed, released, dropped and abandoned. No, I am not attempting to extend my descriptive vocabulary, nor escape the confines of grammar.  I ran the gamut of these emotions while reading Eimar McBride’s award winning debut novel A Girl is a Half-formed thing.

The story follows the protagonists life from childhood to womanhood.  Alienated in a fractured family, a traumatic event shatters the young girl’s world, that continues to haunt her throughout her life.

Eventually she escapes to college striving to establish her own identity and escape her past.

At times reminiscent of Ginsberg’s Howl, the young girl leads a drink fuelled promiscuous existence, struggling to come to terms with her chaotic sexual identity.  A crisis draws the girl back to the family fold, and Eimar weaves an intimate portrait of a strained family dynamic stretched to breaking point.

Eimar’s style of writing takes a little getting used to, something publishers clearly experienced as this book took ten years to publish.  My initial stuttering attempts to digest this book were fruitless.  I eventually found that by skimming over the sentences, I could build a scattered image from the text, a little like picking out keywords when attempting to understand a foreign language.

The writing style is often delivered in short terse sentences, a machine gun of broken imagery, where the readers attention is arrested with twisting grammar.  The effect is immediate, a sense stretching experience were the reader is taken into the mind and feelings of an isolated and vulnerable individual.

It is easy to forget this is a work of fiction, but that is surely the goal.  The terse gripping style is exhausting at times, but it is subtly interwoven with touching moments of intimacy, that take on a poetic dreamlike quality.  From first to last page, you are enthralled by a bitter tale with little relief,    a beautifully written book, with a brutally written tale.

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