‘Summer Voices’ by John Banville

Summer Voices by John Banville, 1968

The magic trick:

Hinting but never explicitly saying

There is some seriously messed up stuff going on in this story. Two little kids. Boy and girl. Sister and brother. And something just isn’t quite right. You think you’re imagining it. You hope you’re imagining it. By the end, you’re pretty sure you’re not imagining it. But here’s the thing: the story never tells you. It’s never made clear. You’re left wondering what the heck you just read. It’s brilliant. And that’s quite a trick on Banville’s part.

The selection:

– Well he’s not dirty. And anyway I don’t care. I’m in love with him, so there.

– He’s dirty and he’s old and he’s mad too.

– I don’t care. I love him. I’d love him to kiss me.

She closed her eyes and puckered her lips at the sky. Suddenly she turned and pushed the boy violently, so that he almost lost his balance. She watched him try to control the wobbling wheels, and she screamed with laughter. Then she sailed ahead of him once again, crying:

– You’re only jealous, you are.

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