‘The Pram’ by Roddy Doyle

The Pram by Roddy Doyle, 2007

The magic trick:

Considering issues of immigration and class through a horror story

We’re off to Ireland today, home of Roddy Doyle and The Commitments. 

I don’t totally know what to make of this one. Its central images and metaphors don’t quite add up for me. And maybe that’s by design. Still, I like it when the pieces fit cleanly. Regardless, it’s a cool thing the way the story flirts with the clichéd “governess takes over new role in a big, scary house” but then gets weird. And maybe that also explains why the pieces don’t exactly fit. This story isn’t interested in scaring you. It might scare you. It’s a page-turner, for sure. But this story is more interested in making you think about class and country. I’m not sure it succeeds in bridging those two very different agendas, but it’s an interesting attempt. And that’s quite a trick on Doyle’s part.

The selection:

– The pram moved today, said Saibhreas.

She said this later, in the kitchen.

– I should hope so, said O’Reilly. – It’s supposed to bloody move. I pay a Polish cailín to move it.

Alina blushed; her rage pushed at her skin. She hated this crude woman.

– It moved all by itself, said Ocean.

Alina stared down at her chicken. She felt something, under the table, brush against her leg. Mr O’Reilly’s foot. He sat opposite Alina.

– Sorry, he said.

– Down, Fido, said O’Reilly.

She looked at Alina.

– Lock your door tonight, sweetie.

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