True Things about Me
  • True Things about Me
  • True Things about Me

True Things about Me

3.6 5
by Deborah Kay Davies
     
 

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One ordinary afternoon in a nameless town, a nameless young woman is at work in a benefits office. Ten minutes later, she is in an underground parking lot, slammed up against a wall, having sex with a stranger.

What made her do this? How can she forget him? These are questions the young woman asks herself as she charts her deepening erotic obsession with painful,

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Overview

One ordinary afternoon in a nameless town, a nameless young woman is at work in a benefits office. Ten minutes later, she is in an underground parking lot, slammed up against a wall, having sex with a stranger.

What made her do this? How can she forget him? These are questions the young woman asks herself as she charts her deepening erotic obsession with painful, sometimes hilarious precision. With the crazy logic and hallucinatory clarity of an exhilarating, terrifying dream, told in chapters as short and surprising as snapshots, True Things About Me hurtles through the terrain of sexual obsession and asks what it is to know oneself and to test the limits of one's desires.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
This unabashedly predictable tale of abuse by Davies (Grace, Tamar and Lazlo the Beautiful) finds its redemption in a sizzling voice. Our nameless heroine, who gets bowled over by a man in a car park (and pays a price for it), describes everything—sex, abuse, cooking—from the same detached perspective: "La, la, and thrice la, she sang, swooping and banking up by the fluorescent light strip. It verily is." Referring to her flighty self in both first and third person and also as a disembodied witness creates a vibrant Alice in Wonderland feel, though dark as pitch since this Alice is copiously beaten, robbed, and humiliated by "Mr Blond," the rough, enigmatic man she clings to. This doleful exposé is also a romantic potboiler for the masochistic; a chronicle of a woman coming undone and crawling back for more: "I longed to see him. When I woke up in the morning the longing woke up too, like a strange creature on my bed. The feeling moved up from inside my pelvis and settled in my throat." Ouch. (July)
New York Times Book Review Rebecca Barry

Davies unspools her novel in short chapters featuring searing, forensically precise sentences. Every sensation is recorded. . . But what [Davies] does most brilliantly is to give equal time to her narrator's feelings of victimization (fear, self-loathing), as well as to those feelings no one wants to acknowledge--an eager complicity, the way a dangerous person can make us feel alive. In some ways, Davies has also captured the malaise of the virtual age, showing how our connections to a false idea of a person, or virtual person, come at the expense of the real people around us. She has taken a common subject and through dreamlike imagery and uncommon complexity swept the reader up too.
author of We Need to Talk About Kevin LIONEL SHRIVER

Brutal, funny, and exerting the sick fascination of watching a train wreck. One of those rare novels that is genuinely about sex, in all its irrationality and potential for self-destruction.
The Los Angeles Times SUSAN SALTER REYNOLDS

A perfectly tidy, well-constructed life--complete with job, friends, parents and house slides into the gutter . . . An airy book, full of wonderful spaces. Why can't she stop herself? Is her life so worthless? It's the narrator's insouciance that draws us in, but something darker keeps us reading. We all know how fragile our lives are. You close the book and are relieved that her descent is not your own.
New York Times Susannah Meadows

In this wallop of a little novel . . . Ms. Davies writes with such spunk that you stay with her for much of the ride.
The Independent BOYD TONKIN

Glinting with pitch-black humour, Davies's razor-edged style has a lucidity and ferocity that makes much 'literary' prose sound like soggy mush.
The Scotsman TOM ADAIR

Deborah Kay Davies . . . is a writer born to awaken us . . . Her gift is that of nuanced compassionate revelation. Here, the almost-incomprehensible is made palpable. The ostensible fact that it's told to us by the victim makes it more remarkable still. Repelled, yet attracted, the reader is helpless. Nothing prurient is indulged in. Here and there, flit sprites of humour, making the darkness more intense. If darkness has brilliance, this is it.
The Indypendent IRINA IVANOVA

The most riveting thing you're likely to read this year . . . In the vein of Emma Donoghue's Room, which strives to make unimaginable abuse palpable, True Things About Me is an arresting first novel that marks its author as a voice to note.
Vogue.com Megan O'Grady

A wine-dark fantasy of sexual obsession that begins with a tryst in a parking lot and evolves into a masochistic pas de deux with an ex-con known as Mr. Blond.
Philadelphia Inquirer Katie Haegele

Happy to report: This book is funny. In its treatment of sexual obsession it is reminiscent of Rod Liddle's darkly comic short-story collection Too Beautiful for You, but it doesn't splash out with as much hilarity and showmanship. The mood here is bleaker, quieter, though it is buoyed by humor and an occasional nice, human moment . . . Since her story is anchored with all the weight of real life?a job she could lose if she doesn't get it together, fretful aging parents, ordinary trips to the grocery store -- the cinematically outrageous things she does with this man actually feel quite possible. And that might be the scariest idea of all.
Women's Review of Books Trish Crapo

In Davies's narrator, back-alley toughness mingles with sweet vulnerability so effectively, it's hard to stop reading about her, even when I could have throttled her myself for being so self-destructive. [True Things About Me] dragged me, bruised, to its final horrifying pages?which I say not as judgment but as a compliment.
The Guardian’s “Twelve of the best new novelists”

Deborah Kay Davies's True Things About Me is a brutal story in brutal prose. The unnamed narrator works in a benefit office, a criminal walks in and literally claims her. Desire is portrayed here as a kind of breakdown--everything is wrecked in its pursuit.
The Times

A little book that packs a huge punch . . . Davies's narrator walks a narrow line between deadpan wit and sheer terror--little by little she surrenders control of her life, and watches herself with a kind of horrified fascination. In the end there's only one way it can go, and Davies handles the horrifying climax with control and assurance.
The Observer

A dark tale of violence, lust and obsession, True Things About Me, is a tautly written exploration of desire within an all-consuming , yet fractured, relationship, leading fellow Welsh writer Trezza Azzopardi to praise it as 'The Bell Jar for the 21st century.'
Kirkus Reviews

A young British woman watches her life unravel after a risky sexual encounter with an ex-con.

It's lust at first sight for the unnamed narrator of this unsettling novel, who just can't help herself when a hunky, fresh-out-of-prison claimant enters the benefits office where she works. The two end up having a quickie in the parking garage, an unprecedented act that triggers something self-destructive in her. She tracks him down afterwards, and they embark on a highly dysfunctional affair characterized by his cruelty and her degradation. There are thrills to be had as well, but her obsession drowns out every other relationship in her life. Her loving parents and loyal best friend Allison try to snap her out of it, but it is no use. She slacks off at her job, makes a fool of herself on a blind date with a decent bloke and generally does everything she can to distance herself from the solid middle-class world she came from. Fitfully aware of the toxicity of her relationship (he disappears for weeks with her car, disrupts her grandmother's funeral reception), the girl makes some feeble attempts at a normal life. The ironic titles of each chapter read like daily affirmations suggested in a self-help book, and inject a creepy humor into the increasingly bleak proceedings. Her internal struggle over Mr. Wrong seems to jeopardize her very sanity. Naturally, something has to give, and although both reader and heroine know it will end badly, the shocking finish still comes as a surprise. With a distinctive, cliché-free writing style and a psychologically complex "victim," this first novel from talented, award-winning Welsh writer Davies (Grace, Tamar and Lazlo the Beautiful, 2009) points to a promising future.

Darkly sardonic exploration of sexual obsession.

Rebecca Barry
Davies describes the dissociative state of a victim of emotional and physical abuse: the abuse's numbing effect, the way it leads to destructive behavior, the way people can do appalling things in order to be able to feel anything again. But what she does most brilliantly is to give equal time to her narrator's feelings of victimization (fear, self-loathing), as well as to those feelings no one wants to acknowledge—an eager complicity, the way a dangerous person can make a less dangerous person feel alive.
—The New York Times

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780865478541
Publisher:
Faber and Faber
Publication date:
07/05/2011
Pages:
224
Product dimensions:
5.38(w) x 8.26(h) x 0.61(d)

Read an Excerpt

TRUE THINGS ABOUT ME (Chapte One)I go underground

I PRESSED THE buzzer for the next claimant. This old woman started telling me about her neighbour. As she spoke she kept tapping the glass barrier between us. That girl is on the game, she said, living off immoral earnings. It’s disgusting. Someone ought to come round and investigate. I suggested she get in touch with the police. She pursed her lips and made a spitty sound. Probably half the police force are involved, she said, I wouldn’t be surprised. Boys coming and going at all hours. And not only boys. Men too. Men old enough to be her granddad. She stood back and pointed with her thumb to her chest. I have seen men my age going in there.

I tried to take control of the interview, but she wasn’t going to be put off. I could see a man with curly blond hair sitting behind and to the left of her. He had his arms crossed and his eyes closed. She leaned forward. And another thing, she said, there’s always a lot of commotion; she’s forever revving the engine of her fancy car outside my window, slamming doors, living like she doesn’t have a care in the world. It shouldn’t be allowed.

Every time the old woman banged the window she called me miss. I let her go on a bit while I looked over her shoulder at the other people waiting. I could see the guy was reading the paper now. Broad shoulders. His legs were long, stretched out in front of him, clad in faded, nicely tight jeans. I said to the woman, You leave this with me, we’ll check it out, and scribbled down the address. She gave me a look. Thank you now, I said. I have to see the next claimant, and pressed my buzzer.

He sat down and leaned back in the chair. Name? I said, and wrote it down. I read his paperwork. He’d just come out of prison. Nothing serious, he said, and stretched. Just having a laugh with an articulated lorry and a lamp post. He settled back in the seat and grinned. I grinned back. I don’t know why. It wasn’t at all appropriate. Address? I said. He leaned near the barrier. Why d’you want to know? he said, his breath briefly etching an oval on the glass. I told him I was just doing my job. Nothing personal. Pity, he said. I leafed through his papers and picked up my pen. Married or single? I said. Single. Very, he said, and laid his hands palm down on the surface. Good hands, nice nails and what could have been a wedding ring.

I looked up from the forms. He winked. I told him he would have to wait about a week while someone processed his claim. No probs, he said. Is it your lunch-time soon? His shirt was open at the neck. His throat was kissable. No, I said, tidying up, I don’t have time for lunch. Pity, he said again, and stood up. Everyone should have a break. You look as if you could do with a long one. I could feel myself starting to blush. I made a fuss of gathering up his paperwork. I couldn’t bring myself to look up again. I pressed my buzzer and waited. Then he wasn’t there.

Alison and I worked late. It was getting dark as we left the building, the air slightly chilly still. He was standing opposite the entrance. There’s that man, I said to Alison. He was walking towards us. Which man? she said, peering around. Suddenly he was right in front of us. Hi, he said to me, ignoring her. Coming? Alison stood still and looked from him to me. Bye, I said and shrugged my shoulders. Alison held onto my arm. What about the film? she said quietly. He took hold of my hand and pulled me gently. I just went. Alison called out, Are you sure you’re all right? I tried to answer but we were walking too fast, we were too far away, already going underground.

TRUE THINGS ABOUT ME Copyright © 2010 by Deborah Kay Davies

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