Harper, Sep 2008, $13.95
In Southampton eleven year old Skunk Cunningham lives with her father, brother and au pair. Skunk watches bully Bob Oswald batter teenager Rick Buckley; a few minutes after beating Rick up badly, Bob reports to the cops that the nineteen years old Buckley raped his thirteen year old daughter Susan. No one messes with one of Oswald’s five daughters as the patriarch is not concerned with the truth; in this case the police Dr. Mortimer affirms Susan is a virgin. Charges were dropped.
Skunk avoids the Oswald girls like they have the plague as they are as insane and violent as their dad. Meanwhile Rick is afraid to go outside because he knows Oswald is not through with pummeling him. Finally unable to remain self incarcerated as he is going crazy, Rick reenters society looking for someone to beat up.
Although the plot is skeletal, this is a dark bleak character study. The Oswald brood is a fascinating family as Bob’s argument that Rick harmed his daughter is based on fear she overtly displays; he is unable to take responsibility that her fear is of him. However, it is the metamorphosis of Rick from frightened shadow to avenger against those he feels affronted him like the female his age who told him his pecker was microscopic as well as the Oswalds. Not for everyone as the desolation and hopelessness oozes throughout, fans who appreciate the dark side of human interactivity will want to read aptly titled BROKEN.