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A Painful Operation
on 6 April 2015
I didn't find it as striking or absorbing as Comyn's earlier work, "Who Was Changed And Who Was Dead" - the quirky surreal element limited to Alice's levitational feats. Also, it lacks the black humour of "Who Was Changed". Instead, the unpalatable injustices of life are presented in a dour, unrelenting simplicity through the eyes of Alice, victim and heroine, who endures her daily trials, big and small, with a limp stoicism. It makes for a downbeat melancholy feel, emphasised by the austere, 1950's parochial setting.
I wonder too if Alice, at seventeen, is drawn a shade too naive, too childlike for her years. There does seem something stunted and switched-off about her, dare I say insipid? Not to say such young women don't exist, just that her passivity does rather mute the drama. At times her father's treatment resembles that of a vicious schoolboy torturing a prone, insentient insect.