Delani's Reviews > Tiger, Tiger

Tiger, Tiger by Margaux Fragoso
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's review
Aug 26, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: memoir
Read in August, 2011

This is a difficult review to write, because Tiger, Tiger by Margaux Fragoso was difficult to read.

This is a book about Fragoso’s 14-year relationship with a pedophile named Peter, beginning at age 7 (he’s 51) until his suicide when she’s 22 – so the majority of her childhood and adolescence. The subject matter alone makes this book difficult to read.

It doesn’t help that Fragoso’s writing style is in that overdone, purple prose that’s textbook bad writing. She doesn’t use dialog so much as chew-the-scenery monologues, especially from her parents. Here’s just one example:

“As he pulled into traffic, Poppa looked around. ‘This is a bad section of town, Keesy. Look at that man spitting in the street. I would not spit in the street even if I were choking to death! This is why I carry a handkerchief at all times; I never spit, and I never curse on the street like a lowlife savage, and I do not throw trash on the ground. Look over there, Keesy, at those two pigeons pecking at cigarette butts; they think it is food! It is a depressing sight. This whole place is depressing to me. ..’” and it goes on and on, one long, flourid paragraph after another.

But I stuck with it, hacking my way through the forest of verbiage, because I just couldn’t put it down. It is morbidly fascinating, this Lolita-as-told-from-her-POV. It starts innocently enough, for Fragoso, meeting a charming man at a pool, being invited to his crazy petting-zoo house for dinner. He charms her. As adults, we can see how he’s manipulating her from the beginning, winning her trust, convincing her how much he “loves” her. Of course, the 7-year-old Fragoso can’t see this. She just feels the way Peter wants her to: as though she is his whole world.

Fragoso pulls no punches – she graphically describes exactly what he does to her, along with her feelings. This is definitely R, or even X, rated content.

Yet even as I was reading, there were several unanswered questions. First, how could all the other people living in Peter’s house not know, or even suspect, what was going on? He lives with a wife (who later divorces him because he won’t or can’t have sex with her), two step-sons, and later, his ex-wife’s boyfriend, one of his step-son’s girlfriends, and a family living in the downstairs apartment. Did noone think a forty-to-fifty-year-old man and a young girl spending so much time in the basement and his bedroom – with the door locked – was a little suspicious? When Fragoso is a teenager, someone does call DHS, but by then, she’s so brainwashed by him she actively covers for him, lying about their relationship...

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