by Dorothy Nelson
Publication Date: 01/01/2005
Dorothy Nelson's first book to be published in the United States focuses on a demented, dysfunctional Irish family. The Crawford family is dominated by Da (Joe), a manic-depressive thief and liar who has spent two years in prison for exposing himself in the woods to young children and couples. Ma is a weak and downtrodden victim of her husband's violent temper who occasionally flirts with her son Benjee, an overly sensitive boy with little hope for future happiness. As the narrative passes back and forth between the members of the family (in a style reminiscent of Ann Quin), a compelling portrait of abuse and its consequences is constructed, one that contains both horror and humor in the sexual and social sicknesses of the characters.