In and Out of the Goldfish Bowl Paperback – 2 Dec 2000
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What makes this winner of the Orange Futures Prize work is Rebecca's own voice. She rants, she sulks, but she remains defiant. The Guardian 10th Nov 2001 -- The Guardian, 10th November 2001
trainspotting for treorchy -- The Big Issue, October 2001
From the Publisher
Grit is not fashionable in adult novels nowadays. Too much deprivation, abuse and alcohol without a touch of slick, ironic violence and the narrative begins to sound like a catalogue of "issues" to be stuffed, disguised as fiction, down the throats of pre-teens. Trezise's debut, the story of Rebecca growing up in unemployment-blighted Rhondda valley, has plenty of grit, peppered by neglect, rape and drugs. What makes this winner of the Orange Futures Prize work is Rebecca's own voice. She rants, she sulks, but she remains defiant and touchingly cynical. You guess immediately that she is a survivor. The GuardianSee all Product description
Top customer reviews
a diary but a first person description of a girl and her teenage years.Not a great upbringing to say the
least, but she weathers her disasters with a streak of hope.
An example of her writing is a paragraph:
"Will (boyfriend) wanted security. He wanted me to be a padlock which held him together, and resisted anyone else's.
I'm not metal, I'm human, often I've felt inhuman,s but it was plastic, never anything as solid as stainless steel.
And more like this.
The reason it didn't get a five is I found the ending a little squirmy ... not wanting to put spoilers in so I'll stop there ... but well worth a read, in fact, you'd be missing out if you didn't give it a go.
Trezise's simple, stark writing style is very affecting and her depiction of the Rhondda valley and the horrific unemployment and drug problems therein very vivid and believable - it was very important that this book was written, as it reveals a side of Wales that not that many people see (though one made more visible after the spate of teen suicides in the Rhondda a few years back). Her descriptions of Rebecca's life and her depression pack a hell of a punch. However, I felt that Trezise had gone perhaps too far in condensing her narrative. While the depiction of Rebecca's gradual collapse and rehabilitation was extremely effective, I would have liked more details about her family (particularly her relationship with her grandmother, who only entered the novel in the last few pages), her love of literature (which must have seemed quite unusual in her family?) and her various friendships, and experiences in local music-making. As there was so little dialogue, the novel occasionally became rather claustrophobically focussed in Rebecca's head (though the title of the book implies this might have been the point) with not enough sense of the wider outside world. This was not so much of a problem in the sections describing Rebecca's depression, but I felt Trezise could have given more space to describing the 'turning point' for Rebecca (this is a novella, after all, and I've been assured that according to structural theory the 'turning point' in a novella is very important). I was left with rather a lot of questions - for example, if Rebecca was so close to her grandmother, why had she not been mentioned in the book before, and why hadn't the grandmother stepped in to help Rebecca when her family began to implode? And why did Rebecca's Mum suddenly start showing an interest in her daughter? What was it about Rebecca's self-harming (rather than drug-taking) that made her change her mind and take her in? Also, I'd have liked to know more about what Rebecca went on to do after her recovery. Just a few more pages, and maybe a bit more detail about Rebecca's early childhood too, would have been great.
However, this in no way clouded my admiration of this book. 'In and Out of the Goldfish Bowl' is not a comfortable read, but it's not meant to be, and as an analysis of what life can be like for a sensitive girl living in a dysfunctional family and a society coping with desperate poverty and unemployment, it's powerful work indeed. I'll be interested to read more of Trezise's work - she's a courageous woman.
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