Alan's Reviews > True Things About Me

True Things About Me by Deborah Kay Davies
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's review
Oct 04, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: novels, read-in-2011
Read from September 27 to October 01, 2011

This book sweeps you away much like the main character, a woman working in a benefits office, is carried off into another state (or states) by her sexual contact and subsequent obsession with a claimant at the dole office. On first meeting they have sex in the car park, and from then on her ‘normal’ life falls to pieces as she pursues the purely sexual relationship with the ex-criminal (we’re not told what crime he has committed but he is violent to her, steals her car). We feel sometimes like her friend Alison who tries to make her ‘see sense’ – what the fuck are you doing, going back to him when he’s humiliated you, bruised and subjugated you to his will – and sometimes get caught up in her hallucinatory world where normality seems silly:

As I trailed up the stairs I could hear my mum asking where the kettle was. I wanted to rush back down and shout at them to leave my kettle alone. To get out of my house, and take their stupid string bags, fucking bifocals and dreary matching fleeces with them.

She’s gone beyond tea - she stops eating for a while - and work and politeness, she’s lost her sense of self, she’s someone different now:

I felt as if some wet substance filled my cavities. It could have been water, it might have been blood; some sort of disgusting broth anyway. I was surprised my colleagues couldn’t hear it lapping around as I stalked up and down the corridors. For all I knew I was leaving liquid splodges on the office floors.

As a reader the hook is so strong you want to just sit and read straight through and I would have but for things like work and family stuff getting in the way. Short chapters with ironic headings, true things about her: I talk to the animals (where she visits her gran in hospital, who threw her head back and started crowing like a cockerel. She had little claws that plucked the bedclothes), I get tied up once in a while, I eat colour coordinated snacks. There’s a lot of topical humour too: Why can’t I have a good old British sandwich? She asked. Why must it be ciabatta and wraps and stuff like that? Who is Panini anyway?

I suspect some will wince at the very strong nature of the sex, violence, drugs depicted here, but this is a ‘descent’ story of considerable power. Fucking brilliant. Surrender.

I should add that she is another writer who is appearing at the Great Short Fiction day @ Lancaster Litfest, although this is a novel (I'll get on to her stories after, as they've just arrived). I am so glad she is because I might not have picked up this book otherwise.
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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Sketchbook (new)

Sketchbook Nice review, but I cast a gimlet eye at novels (in 2011) x women whose female characters are "obsessed." This seems very '80s.

Alan Yes I know, and also there are quite a few examples of the single woman going a bit (or a lot) bonkers now - eg Jenn Ashworth's A Kind of Intimacy. All I can say is this worked for me. The ending (I don't say this above) is a bit too melodramatic, but otherwise...

message 3: by Sketchbook (new)

Sketchbook The subject (today) of women going bonk-bonk would make a good essay for a literary zine... TLS, NYRB.

Alan you should write it Sketch, although then you'd have to read them all

message 5: by Sketchbook (last edited Oct 05, 2011 06:33AM) (new)

Sketchbook Yes. I'd need Nurse Curtis here round-the-clock with the vodka IV.

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