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My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent

“This is one of the most important books you’ll pick up this decade.” —Harper’s Bazaar

“The word ‘masterpiece’ has been cheapened by too many blurbs, but My Absolute Darling absolutely is one.” —Stephen King

“A major American debut… intense, powerfully wrought and memorable, My Absolute Darling is an absolutely thrilling literary success and a novel that will stay with me for a very long time.” —The Houston Chronicle

‘I read My Absolute Darling in one sitting, well past midnight, despite an early-morning flight: the book is that impossible to put down. Gabriel Tallent depicts Turtle’s battle for her independence – body, mind, and soul – with brutal honesty and overwhelming tenderness. The result is a heartrending debut that will shock, then shake, then inspire you’ CELESTE NG

‘It’s unreal how vivid and compelling this book is. Astonishing’ PHIL KLAY

“There are books we like well enough to recommend, but there are a very few—To Kill a Mockingbird, Catch-22, The Things They Carried—that we remember forever. To my own shortlist I can now add My Absolute Darling, by Gabriel Tallent. Fourteen-year-old Turtle Alveston is a brilliantly rendered creation, and her father is the most terrifyingly believable human monster to inhabit the pages of a novel since Harry Powell in The Night of the Hunter. This book is ugly, beautiful, horrifying, and uplifting.” —Stephen King

“Every once in awhile there comes along a fictional character…whose plight and determination to overcome subsumes the reader so completely, we actually feel ourselves missing him or her after the final page. Turtle, the adolescent protagonist of Gabriel Tallent’s debut novel, is that and so much more…this is one of the most important books you’ll pick up this decade.” Harper’s Bazaar

“One of EW’s favorite books of the year so far…an unputdownable coming-of-age novel.” —Entertainment Weekly

“Difficult to put down…the writing is lush and vivid. You’ll read it with your stomach in your shoes, rooting for [Turtle] the whole time.” —Marie Claire

The year’s must-read novel…Tallent in this debut makes an old story — the drama of coming of age — feel original and full of youthful power.” —The Times (London)

“The magnificent, inhospitable landscape of northern California is itself a character here…a fast-paced adventure story…[a] strange and remarkable book.” The Guardian

Review

You just can’t read this
it’s that bad
that you want it to never exist
this tale.
Turtle, Turtle oh dear Turtle.
Aka Sweetpea to her Grand Papa, your heart goes out for the man, in a scene with him seeing before him the monster in his true light come to realisation, the pain in the father in that one instant, all overcoming, all terrible, one that he had contributed to bring forth upon the land, the darkness, the evil, the species he raised, whom has infected and contaminated.
Like every pest, the reader is hooked to the need for somehow his extermination with the many weapons, the guns that Turtle has hooked up upon her bedroom walls, ones that he had her religiously perfect in using, assembling, dissembling and practice daily with.
Her fate in mind, will Turtle disassemble what has been, and is, who she is, what she can be, and how she can be free ?
A name so fitting, turtles with hard outer shells kicked, bumped, maybe seen so much rough whilst within a soft creature.
This is disturbing and caution to reading this in what lays in wait is some very dark tainted abuse in small town.
The story sadly does keep you hooked even with all the terrible detailed disturbingly ugliness, he managed to give some light in the tale with some certain respite in the end.
Other diamonds in the heart of darkness girls in books come to mind, there are in imagery on the screen adaptation, and characters written in a tale like that of Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed, Grace by Paul Lynch, True grit by Charles Portis, The Girl Next Door by Jack Ketchum, and  Winters Bone by Daniel Woodrell, this one me thinking something just need to stay in books too brutal for the screen.
The is in the vein of Daniel Woodrell, Jack Ketchum and Stephen King combined.
The scenes visceral and vivid, he takes you to sense of dread and despair and some scene have you hanging on with the unfolding escalation of affairs with craft in writing and connection in empathy, a need for saving, for surviving.
Turtle, a memorable character that will stay with reader for a time her plight, and her life described disturb you and unsettle your heart in quieter hours.
Then it came to me in a thought, a metamorphosis this was of Turtle to a turtle she became, and then we hope something free a bird maybe.
Like a turtle, topsy turvy one last time she deciphers the chaos, the horrors, then maybe becomes a bird and flees.

A horror that is not dressed in a clown suit, a horror dressed as a parent.

“When she was six, he had her put on a life jacket for cushion, told her not to touch the hot ejected casings, and started her on a bolt-action Ruger .22, sitting at the kitchen table and bracing the gun on a rolled-up towel.”

“She is tall for fourteen, coltishly built, with long legs and arms, wide but slender hips and shoulders, her neck long and corded. Her eyes are her most striking feature, blue, almond-shaped in a face that is too lean, with wide, sharp cheekbones, and her crooked, toothy mouth––an ugly face, she knows, and an unusual one. Her hair is thick and blond, bleached in streaks by the sun. Her skin is constellated with copper brown freckles. Her palms, the undersides of her forearms, the insides of her thighs show tangles of blue veins.”

“On wall pegs, her Lewis Machine & Tool AR-10, her Noveske AR-15, and her Remington 870 twelve-gauge pump-action shotgun. Each answers a different philosophy of use.”

“Anna continues. “Julia, listen to me, you come to school, and you sit there and stare out the classroom window. You don’t pay attention. You don’t study. You don’t have friends and you don’t feel safe and you come to the first question on that test and you have this feeling of not know ing and you don’t push through it, you just stop there, and you think, ‘I don’t know it,’ and you sit there, hating yourself, that’s what it looks like. That’s my theory. But I think that half the time or more you do know it, and you would know it even better if you studied, and you’d be able to fill out those tests if you pushed through that moment of fear.”

“You know how many throats he slit with this knife?” Turtle looks down at her plate. “Forty-two, isn’t that right?” “Forty-two,” Grandpa agrees. “Korea, kibble. And at some point they put him to work in the DMZ tracking down infiltrators, and these poor f***s, these poor f***s had no idea that a bloodthirsty f***g psychopath from a wilderness a world away, a man whose forefathers hunted Indians in the American West, was out there just waiting in the weeds. How could you under stand a thing like that? That was the most fun you ever had, I think.” Grandpa says nothing. His jaw tremors.



Harper Collins Publishers : https://www.harpercollins.co.uk/9780008185213/my-absolute-darling

My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent review – a remarkable debut :

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/aug/24/my-absolute-darling-gabriel-tallent-review

Love And Cruelty Are Bound Together In ‘My Absolute Darling’ :

http://www.npr.org/2017/08/26/546117898/love-and-cruelty-are-bound-together-in-my-absolute-darling

https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/gabriel-tallent/my-absolute-darling/

‘My Absolute Darling’: A brutal, tremendous novel about a tough teen girl : https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/my-absolute-darling-a-brutal-and-tremendously-good-novel-about-a-tough-teen-girl

A Debut Novelist’s Descent Into Darkness : https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/27/books/gabriel-tallent-my-absolute-darling.html

 

Reviewed by Lou Pendergrast on 01 September 2017