Brother by Edna O’Brien, 1990
The magic trick:
Shocking the reader not with the disturbing goings on but the narrator’s response to the disturbing goings on
The narrator in this one is enraged. She’s upset. Maybe even a crazy. She is having murderous fantasies. It’s no wonder, after you hear the incredibly disturbing stories she has to tell. The real shock isn’t that she wants to murder someone. That adds up. The shock lies in who she wants to murder. And that’s quite a trick on O’Brien’s part.
“I’ll be good to you, Maisie,” he says. Good! A bag of toffees on a holy day. Takes me for granted. All them flyboys at threshing time trying to ogle me up into the loft for a fumble. Puckauns. I’d take a pitchfork to any one of them; so would he if he knew. I scratched his back many’s the night and rubbed the liniment on it. Terrible aul smell. Eucalyptus.
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