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True Things About Me Paperback – 3 Mar 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books; Main edition (3 Mar. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1847678319
  • ISBN-13: 978-1847678317
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 423,420 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"Brutal, funny . . . One of those rare novels that is genuinely about sex, in all its irrationality and potential for self-destruction" (Lionel Shriver)

"Affecting and well described...[with] searing observations of human behaviour" (Joanna Briscoe Guardian)

"Glinting with pitch-black humour, Davies's razor-edged style has a lucidity and ferocity that makes much "literary" prose sound like soggy mush" (Independent)

"Exquisitely written" (Daily Express)

"A little book that packs a huge punch...Davies handles the horrifying climax with control and assurance" (The Times)

"A kind of hybrid of Janice Galloway's The Trick is to Keep Breathing, Maggie O'Farrell's My Lover's Lover, and one of Sophie Hannah's twisted stories. Memorable, troubling and surprisingly funny in places" (Financial Times)

"Davies is causing a stir in the books world" (Observer)

"If darkness has brilliant, this is it" (Tom Adair Scotsman)

"Andrew Motion has complained - at least, I assume it was a complaint - that so few entries for the Man Booker Prize this year dared to write seriously about sex. What a shame, then, that one book that did so with coruscating verve and zest failed to trouble the judges. True Things About Me (Canongate) by the Welsh writer Deborah Kay Davies (right) is also a first novel: a category absent from the 2010 long-list. Her first-person narrative of a young woman's obsessive, destructive affair has an unsettling pitch-black wit that truly makes its voice stand out from the bland MOR murmur of most "literary" fiction. Still, the Booker is not the only prize: other juries, take note" (Boyd Tonkin Independent)

"Like nothing I've ever read...full of unexpected beauty and humour. It's like The Bell Jar for the twenty-first century" (Trezza Azzopardi)

"Every now and then a novel will come along and blast the scales off your eyes. True Things About Me did more than that - it blew me to pieces. Brilliant. Disturbing. Deborah Kay Davies deserves to scoop every prize going" (Helen Walsh)

"Compelling and completely convincing, True Things About Me has a kind of Greek tragedy inexorability about it which made my scalp tingle and palms sweat" (Niall Griffiths)

"This is the real deal. It's as dark and humorous as life itself" (Joe Stretch)

"reading this book felt like flipping open the dirty, sharp lid of a buried jewellery box and finding the world reflected from minuscule gems that turn out to be shards of glass eyes, signalling a truth you'd rather not know....She is a writer born to awaken us [and] her debut novel...is unreservedly to be admired" (The Scotsman)

"If darkness has brilliance, this is it" (Tom Adair)

"A tough read but worth the effort." (Collin Waters Sunday Herald)

"A brutal story in brutal prose." (Guardian Saturday Review)

"unputdownable and unforgettable" (Cambria Magazine)

Book Description

Deborah Kay Davies was named 'one to watch' by the Independent. She was also selected as 'one of the twelve best new British novelists' by The Culture Show and the Guardian.

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Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Simon Savidge Reads on 12 Jun. 2011
Format: Paperback
One of Deborah Kay Davies most powerful tools in her debut novel is to have a nameless narrator. In fact the narrator of `True Things About Me' isn't just nameless; she is really a blank canvas. This means that whatever horrendous things befall her there is a distance between us and her, a space for us to put our own feelings and emotions. It's a risky manoeuvre for an author; people might find the character cold or have to work a little bit harder rather than put themselves in that persons place. Add short chapters and sparse threatening prose and, like with this novel, the risk pays off - you have your reader hooked.

When we meet this unnamed woman she is working as a benefits officer with a night out to the cinema with a colleague, and best friend, Alison later that evening. That is all we know about her before one of the claimants comes in, flirts with her, waits for her outside of work and drags her off for a quick risky sexual encounter in a car park before bundling her off into a taxi. It is this moment that she seems to have been waiting for, this is the moment of her undoing. Afterwards, even though she knows she shouldn't, she searches him out and lets him into her life again, something she will regret as it only brings obsession and abuse.

There is a real sense of threat throughout the book from the moment that this blonde curly haired mystery man enters her life. We know as little about him as we do her, in fact weirdly as the book goes on you feel you know her parents, best friend Alison and Grandma better than you do the person telling you the story, but then they are the observers and the outsiders to her so they should be to us, especially as she goes on isolating them the further into a breakdown she goes.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Roman Clodia TOP 100 REVIEWER on 25 July 2010
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
The unnamed narrator is at work one day when she meets an attractive man just out of prison and a few hours later is having sex with him in a carpark... From the blurb I expected a book about a woman's conscious decision to immerse herself in a dangerous sexual relationship but the story that's actually told here seems to me to be very different. Yes, the narrator's `relationship' is certainly dangerous and reckless (not to mention sordid) but it doesn't seem to me to be a decision at all, it's something that she drifts into without any conscious thought.

The second story, or maybe the main one, is about this same woman's breakdown or the fissures in her psyche (I don't know what the correct psychological language is for this) which leave her alienated from both herself and the world around her. What I felt was unclear from the text was the important question of whether she drifts into the `relationship' because of her mental state or whether her breakdown is itself precipitated by the man she meets. I tend to think it's the former which actually makes the sexual relationship a by-product of her mental vulnerability and therefore actually a bit gratuitous.

Certainly the author manages to capture the alienated state of the narrator's mind with her deadpan, staccato sentences and her inability to make sense of the most normal things. There is an emotional black hole at the centre of the book which conveys the emptiness of the disturbed narrator very well. And on the edges we see the pain she is causing her best friend and her parents who, it appears, are unable to get to grips with her mental fragility and send her off for the help that she needs.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By H. Eaton VINE VOICE on 31 Jan. 2012
Format: Paperback
I found this to be a very dark story, which crawled inside my head leaving me feeling a little disoriented and led to some pretty disturbing dreams. I felt the writing style and certain stylistic choices made by the author combined powerfully to create this effect. There is a lot that isn't said in the book, even the narrator isn't given a name, and this leaves us readers filling in the blanks in our own heads, making the story live there and take up space.

The story is about a woman who was probably living a fairly humdrum life - routine job, a nice friend, caring parents (we don't get much of her back-story but this much is hinted at). One day she meets a man at work who waits for her outside and they go off and have sex - just like that. It's a violent encounter and she leaves the scene hurt. That's when her obsession with him starts. From that point onwards, her whole life begins to centre around him to the detriment of her friends, parents, job, everything. We are not told why she feels this way about the man - it's not clear if the encounter is the beginning or if she was becoming detached from reality before and her willingness to go off with him was a step along that journey.

There is a feeling of inevitablity running through the story - there really are no points where you feel she could be saved by a well-meaning friend or parent. You know there is nothing they can say to make her see sense, to shake her out of whatever she is going through. The fog she is in seems almost tangible and impenetrable as she lazily swirls towards her own destruction. She isn't complicit in what happens - she seems to have no control of her life, thoughts or actions and no awareness of a world outside herself and this man.
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