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True Things About Me Paperback – 3 Mar 2011

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd (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: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 375,403 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


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

A brutal story in brutal prose. --Guardian Saturday Review

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

If darkness has brilliance, this is it.
--Tom Adair

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

About the Author

Deborah Kay Davies started writing and publishing when she was a mature student at Cardiff University. Her first collection of stories, Grace, Tamar and Laszlo the Beautiful, won the 2009 Wales book of the Year Award. She has also published a collection of poems, Things You Think I Don't Know.

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Simon Savidge Reads TOP 1000 REVIEWER 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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16 of 18 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 Mountain Writer on 17 Aug. 2011
Format: Paperback
The unnamed narrator in Deborah Kay Davies's debut novel, True Things About Me, is ethereal, purposely insubstantial. The man, also unnamed, whom she allows - almost encourages - to abuse and torture her is equally uncharismatic. As her obsession grows and her work, home and other relationships are destroyed, the only characters who come to life, with whom we can identify, are the people who try to rescue her: her parents and her friend, Alison.
Some readers may find this disconcerting. How can we care about a main character, in so much trouble of her own making, with whom we cannot connect? There are more questions than answers. Why has she only one friend? How can she afford a house and a car while working as a clerk in a benefits agency? How could she allow a new client - a claimant just out of prison - to take her into a car park for quick and violent sex against a wall? And what compulsion makes her take his address from his file so that she can pursue him afterwards?
The narrator tells her story in minute detail using short list-like phrases: `I kept my arm around his waist... Everything was so lovely. I could see how we looked together. After a while I asked him if he was having a good time; I'd begun to think he might be getting bored. But he didn't answer me. I don't think he heard. I started to feel jumpy and nervous. I had that feeling you get when something is slipping away, and you can't stop it. Like the light on a short winter afternoon. I needed something to happen.' Although this may seem like honesty, the only believable thing is that she is becoming increasingly unhinged and self-destructive. When Alison tells her, `'re not a bad person, ...just a mixed-up, self-absorbed one.' it is the truest sentence in the book.
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