Flesh Wounds

Flesh Wounds

4.0 1
by Mick Cochrane
     
 

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Flesh Wounds is an achingly real, deeply felt first novel in the tradition of Anne Tyler and Ordinary People—a novel that shows us an American family with such startling clarity and compassion that we are completely drawn into their world.



When the police come to arrest Hal Lamm, a Minneapolis salesman, for abusing his 13-year-old

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Overview

Flesh Wounds is an achingly real, deeply felt first novel in the tradition of Anne Tyler and Ordinary People—a novel that shows us an American family with such startling clarity and compassion that we are completely drawn into their world.



When the police come to arrest Hal Lamm, a Minneapolis salesman, for abusing his 13-year-old granddaughter Becky, his entire family must come to terms with its secrets and unhealed wounds. Hal's wife Phyllis, after decades of denial and emotional estrangement, finally confronts him. Of their four grown-up children, Ellie, herself once abused by Hal, had sought to find strength by moving away, and now discovers it back in the midst of her family. Cal, the youngest son, is a lawyer whose instinct is to defend Hal-until he becomes a father himself. Most poignantly of all, Becky, unconsoled by the parties and gifts her parents give her, and suspicious of the psychiatrist she is now required to see, keeps her rage hidden-and nearly tears herself apart.



Flesh Wounds is a novel that grips us and does not let go until its genuinely uplifting climax of hard-earned reconciliation. Mick Cochrane, a writer who makes the ordinary seem extraordinary and can find unexpected moments of grace amid the everyday, has created characters so real we feel we know them and scenes that shake us with their dramatic intensity. Already winning the plaudits of excited early readers, Flesh Wounds is that all-too-rare novel that goes straight to the heart.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
With only a few early lulls in the psychological action, Cochrane's compelling first novel about a Midwestern family finally acknowledging years of buried anger speeds its very human characters from a gripping opening to an eventful, moving conclusion. When the police arrive at Hal Lamm's house to arrest him for sexually abusing one of his granddaughters, he slips out the back door and escapes temporarily, then turns himself in. Cochrane's story is not about court proceedings (Hal pleads guilty) or the motivating forces behind the crimes (Hal's always been the way he is), but about the ways in which Hal's wife, Phyllis, and their four children come to terms with an abuser whose acts they tolerated for so long. Although each member of the family gets a moment in the spotlight of Cochrane's deft, illuminating prose, Phyllis slowly takes center stage and admits to herself that she has stayed with a man she never loved, a man who harmed their children. Once Phyllis's crisis comes to the fore, the story gains depth, momentum and the kind of surprising yet inevitable outcome that graces the best fiction. Trusting his talent for describing ordinary moments and objects and eschewing the psychobabble of childhood trauma, Cochrane compassionately reveals the hearts and minds of a splendidly realized, credible family. (Sept.)
Library Journal
In this promising first novel, Hal Lamm, the father of four grown children, is arrested for the sexual abuse of his 13-year-old granddaughter, Becky. In support of her daughter, Ellie issues a statement regarding her own childhood sexual abuse by Hal. The arrest is a catalyst for Hal's grown children to attempt to come to terms with their disturbing memories of child abuse. Cochrane writes in clear, simple prose as he tells the story through the minds of the most affected family members. Although Cochrane concludes with reconciliation for most of the family, he fails to bring Becky out of her current state of crisis. For readers with low tolerance to abuse, the novel is not as descriptively harsh as the title suggests. Cochrane is able to measure feeling without going into great detail about the abuse itself. Recommended for most libraries.Judith Ann Akalaitis, Supreme Court of Illinois Lib., Chicago
Kirkus Reviews
In Cochrane's closely observed and confident first novel, three generations of a Minneapolis family struggle to regain equilibrium after the clan's patriarch is arrested for sexually abusing his granddaughter.

Hal Lamm, a 60ish grandfather and salesman, is arrested for having molested 13-year-old Becky. The charges are corroborated by Hal's grown daughter Ellie, who tells the police about her own history of abuse by Hal; meanwhile, Maureen, another daughter, keeps quiet. Hal hires a good lawyer and gets off with probation, but the family can no longer sustain its denial. Becky stops eating meat and dutifully attends sessions with a psychologist, while her parents impose a big birthday party on her complete with kids she doesn't know and inappropriately lavish presents. At the same time, Ellie has a hard time sharing her agitation with her lumbering but sensitive husband: The incident has awakened both good and bad childhood memories, reigniting her rage at her father and also at her mother, Phyllis, who never believed her daughter's complaints. Now, Phyllis sleepwalks her way to Partners of Offenders meetings and contends with unfamiliar stomach pains until she numbly manages to file for a divorce. Calvin, the youngest Lamm son, is furiously determined to keep his own daughter, Grace, away from his dad. And so on: The siblings, their spouses, and children come together to help Phyllis sell the family house, in the process fumbling toward new trust. They'll all be tested once again when it's discovered that Phyllis is suffering from cancer.

The recovery-from-child-abuse drama is less noteworthy here than the subtle, moving portrait of family secrets, hidden angers, and tentative forgiveness. Cochrane achieves cool control with carefully constructed scenes that yield small, psychologically resonant moments, lending weight and unpredictability to material that's potentially hackneyed.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140277227
Publisher:
Penguin Group (USA)
Publication date:
02/01/1999
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.18(w) x 7.68(h) x 0.55(d)

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