Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tender Morsels-Margo Lanagan

Tender Morsels
Margo Lanagan
Knopf, Oct 2008, $16.99
ISBN: 9780375848117

Single mom Liga Longfield has barely survived her father's sexual molestations and a gang rape although emotionally she is on shaky grounds in spite of living in an apparent heaven. Her daughters are polar opposites as Branza is calm and soothing while the bored Urdda is ready to take on the world they left behind.

Meanwhile their isolated haven soon has a treasure hunting visitor, a "little man"; who comes and goes. Others also arrive to include a kind teenage boy who transforms into a bear and nasty bear-man. Fearing the intrusion, Liga can do little when her now teen Urdda wants to leave for the exciting life of the "vivid people".

This is an intriguing dark character study that looks deep at the human psyche through a lens of “two border worlds” representing the extremes of humanity; one side is abusive and brutal, and the other is caring yet boring. Liga has seen both sides having been molested and raped, and now is living in a gentle realm raising her children. She fears for her daughter who wants a taste of the wild side, having had that taste shoved down her throat with sexual abuse. Although the plot can turn overwhelmingly moody and introspectively slow at times, TENDER MORSELS is an engaging tale.

Harriet Klausner

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