I came to Glen Duncan because of I, Lucifer – not hard to guess why, and yes, it’s always a burden, a trial, an eye-opener, and of course a challenge to see what a wonderful writer has done with your current obsession(s) – and ever since turning that first page I’ve been on a Duncan reading spree. Technically both bold and accomplished, the man is even more of a whiz at voice. As far as I’m concerned, his characters don’t have to do anything as long as they keep talking.
In a break between Duncan novels, I’ve finally been reading Megan Whalen Turner’s A Conspiracy of Kings – fourth in the fantasy series and great fun if you like complex political intrigues and a dab hand at narration – and Roland Merullo’s The Talk-Funny Girl, which right at the outset has one of the most cogent descriptions in fiction of abuse’s legacy :
That girl [the narrator as a child in the New Hampshire hills] was not treated well, and when anyone is hurt like that – especially a child – the hurt burrows down inside and makes a kind of museum there, with images of the bad times displayed on every wall. Some people try to forget the museum exists and keep their mind occupied with drink or drugs or food, or by staying busy with work, or they chase one kind of excitement after another, while the memories fester there in the dark. I understand all that, and I don’t lay a judgment, as we used to say, over any of it. Some people use their own hurt as an excuse for hurting others, or for soaking in self-pity, or for a sharp anger that knifes up through the surface whenever something reminds them of what happened long ago. Some people spend their lives trying never to do what was done to them.
How many psychology texts has it taken to say what Merullo has managed to say in these few lines?