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A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing Paperback – 27 Jun 2013


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Product details

  • Paperback: 203 pages
  • Publisher: Galley Beggar Press (27 Jun 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0957185324
  • ISBN-13: 978-0957185326
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 1.7 x 19.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (130 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 115,033 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Eimear McBride is that old fashioned thing, a genius, in that she writes truth-spilling, uncompromising and brilliant prose... The result is an instant classic an account of Irish girlhood to be set alongside O'Brien's The Country Girls for emotional accuracy and verve, and the sense of its overwhelming necessity. --Anne Enright,The Guardian

This is a simply brilliant book... emotionally raw and at the same time technically astounding. McBride's prose is as haunting and moving as music, and the love story at the heart of the novel between a sister and brother as true and wrenching as any in literature. I can't recommend it highly enough. --Elizabeth McCracken

I was repeatedly (as the author puts it) 'gob impressed'. Writing of this quality is rare and deserves a wide readership... Eimear McBride is a writer of remarkable power and originality --David Collard, Times Literary Supplement

Eimear McBride's ferociously intense and stylistically challenging account of a young girl's coming-of-age in rural Ireland is an astonishing literary debut...--Irish Independent

A brutally honest portrait of a young girl's coming of age, haunted by her relationship with a brother who has suffered a childhood brain tumour... McBride's story-telling is heartfelt and frank and the experience of reading her work is unforgettable.-- We Love This Book

A brutal and brilliant debut novel steps into a young woman s chaotic world... This book will arouse powerful emotions in anyone who accords it the respect of reading with attention. --Sunday Times

Remarkable, harshly satisfying first novel... it is exhilarating to read despite its predominantly negative emotions. Even when there s a strong convergence with Beckett ( Go on go on you can go on ) it seems remarkably unselfconscious, less a matter of stepping in someone s footprints than of sharing a shoe size.... It s hard to imagine another narrative that would justify this way of telling, but perhaps McBride can build another style from scratch for another style of story. That s a project for another day, when this little book is famous. ----London Review of Books

Eimear McBride's ferociously intense and stylistically challenging account of a young girl's coming-of-age in rural Ireland is an astonishing literary debut... --independent.ie

Book Description

This award-winning experimental debut novel tells the story of a young woman's traumatic coming-of-age in rural Ireland, as she struggles with her abusive family and clings to her relationship with her terminally-ill brother. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

3.1 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By a bale on 1 Sep 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I had not seen any review of this book before I read it (bought it because of a bus poster) but was curious to read them afterwards. I was mildly surprised about their focus, as I thought there were more interesting discussions to be had than the style of writing. I left with open ended questions about the nature of shame, abuse, pain and sexual experience, male reactions to female sexuality, judgement, compassion, guilt (and the difference between male/female and child/adult responses to this), religion (with an added layer if you were raised Catholic), fear, wilful blindness, and the many ways that vulnerability presents ....and more. Any book that can achieve this in such a short piece of writing, that doesn't at any point read like a psychology text book, should be read.

If you are looking for a happy time, stay clear. But anyone unsure about whether to read because amazon reviews say the book a) is impossible to lose yourself in or b) has no sympathetic characters, don't be put off. I am not a fan of experimental writing in any way but after getting the hang of the first 30 pages was fully swept along and read it compulsively in one sitting. The 3 central characters are complex but not unsympathetic. When I needed more detail/clarity and wanted answers to "did he? did she? when will she tell me why? - it was to brace myself again what was happening and because I was unnerved and wanted it to be made nice and easy; that I even cared is a testament to the power of the writing. The last book I read that made me feel this way was Last Exit to Brooklyn rather than anything by Joyce.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By S. B. Kelly VINE VOICE on 13 Nov 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Goodness, this is hard work. I almost gave up after the first couple of chapters but I'd had it too long to return for a refund so determined to plough on. It did improve as the unnamed narrator grew a little older but the prose style still irritates rather than illuminating. Emperor's New Clothes is definitely the description for this banal story of endless misery: brain tumours, rape, child abuse, a mentally ill mother ... A little light and shade would have been nice, some grey areas.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By randr@chilli.net.au on 29 Nov 2014
Format: Paperback
Popularity is not often a sign of literary achievement. Occasionally popularity and literary genius do come together but often not at the time the work is published. How interesting it is to look back and see how revered artists, composers and writers were mocked and misunderstood at the time they gave us the fruits of their genius.
Eimear McBride's novel is a thrilling and daring original work, the likes of which do not come around too often especially from young authors writing their first novels. Once you leave the first few pages behind (and they are worth reading a few times to get the feel of her language) the reading is not difficult. How McBride has managed to put the innermost thoughts of a young girl/woman onto the page in the way she has is breaking new ground. How she has managed to write yet another Irish doom and gloom story in a fresh new way is amazing.
I resisted reading this as, in my experience, first novels from young authors, in contemporary times at least (unlike early last century when we had Carson McCullers, Nabokov and others writing extraordinary novels and stories at young ages) tend to be trite, shallow and boring (at least for someone who reads a lot), too obviously autobiographical and all written in the first person, present tense.
What's the difference then? The originality and novelty of the prose. The way she makes up her own rules of language that maintain integrity and rhythm. Even if it is, at first glance, weird and dense, it doesn't take long to get into it and be transported into the girl's world. Sure the subject matter is nightmarish but there's humour, many flashes of the teenage angst we've all gone through, sadness and strength. The language is poetic, rhythmic, absorbing, and mostly works.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By BCT on 8 Aug 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing isn’t a novel that can be enjoyed, well, for me anyway. It’s a reading experience. The novel breathes Ireland and Irishness, in the most stereotypical isolated Catholic community way. The Catholic-ness of the novel can’t be underestimated and it is even more pronounced in the style that McBride uses. Being inside her head makes it impossible to escape her flitting from thought to thought and a combination of railing against the world (as above) and endless Catholic and familial guilt seems to drive her every thought process and movement.

My obsession with names irritated me throughout, I’m always a bit disappointed when I don’t get to know my narrator’s name but this is another novel in which there is no clue. Paragraphs throw you from inside her brain to direct dialogue to overheard conversations. It took me about 30 pages to get into a rhythm with the narrator, her voice had to fit into its own pattern in my head before I could really get through to her story but once it did, I tore on and it was worth the sticky beginning.

Experiments aside, this novel allows the narrator to lay it completely bare. The inside-the-mind narration means brutality is confronted head on, difficult, awkward moments, you’re plunged in at the deep end and the fleeting moments of softness (the narrator seemed quite hard/emotionless to me) appear natural and genuine. The second person tense narration seems to be an attempt to put you (not the reader but her brother) at the centre of the novel but for me it is her who remains in my mind and doesn’t leave the limelight.

This is the first novel I’ve ever read that is initially narrated by a foetus, there should me some kind of award for that or something!

I’m interested to see what McBride does next and if there is any way she isn’t completely terrified of what happens next in her career.
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