Saturday, 10 October 2015

ALL MY PUNY SORROWS by Miriam Toews

This novel tells the story of a woman whose father and then sister commit suicide. It is apparently somewhat autobiographical, as the same thing happened to the author. It is a quite horrifying read, sort of car crash literature, a horrible way to see from a distance what it looks like when the worst happens.
The father kills himself quite quickly and unexpectedly, while the sister makes many attempts and is frequently stopped. She ends up in hospital, begging her family to let her die. They refuse. She eventually seems well enough to be allowed home, where she immediately succeeds in killing herself at last. I have heard that one of the commonest responses to suicide is anger, and I can absolutely see why that would be so. I felt really furious with the sister by the end of the book. Quite how you could force your family through that kind of grief, I can’t understand. But then I suppose I’ve also never considered suicide, so no doubt there are whole swathes of human experience outside my knowledge. Thank goodness.

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