By Grainne Blair
In terms of my rehabilitation after brain injury, 2015 was to be about moving forward and returning to some activities that I had previously enjoyed. I really enjoyed the meeting of the Irish Feminist book club held in Buswell’s. Met some wonderful bright, articulate young feminists and we had plenty to discuss. The book of the month was Eimear McBride’s A girl is a half formed thing not the easiest return to reading for me. Once a voracious consumer of all print forms I now struggle to finish and comprehend and retain full sentences some days never mind read a few paragraphs without having to sleep as my brain closes down due to the permanent injury. Good days mean if I have slept well and not tried the phone or computer I may now be able to read a few pages without having to return to the beginning regularly. It was not the easiest of books to recommence reading rehabilitation for someone who is surrounded by them, many which are old friends. It was like jumping into a fast moving body of water as it hurtled towards massive falls. Whitewater rafting came to mind. Clear echoes of Ulysses hit me from the first lines and the words tumbled fast and furious almost the way a toddler or very excited young child runs all the language together in their impatience to tell you it all right now because once they opened their mouth to tell, the truth pours out in a torrent. I loved her use of language and the osmosis of thought, voice and action. Some found it too dark and depressing leaving its unrelenting day in day out darkness wrapping itself like tight tendrils pulling you away from any light at the end of the tunnel reality. This is in fact a dark deep almost ’incestuous’ love affair between a sister and her dying brother. He is the angel, innocent and clean, scarred and vulnerable but en route to a better afterlife. She is the devil, jezebel, siren calling, dirty messy girl whose life is interrupted by her beloved brother’s illness. She tries to protect him by alternating between ignoring and drawing attention to herself. In the long run she proves to be the most vulnerable of all, the innocent clean young girl abused by her Uncle because he could and then there is the enduring loop between them as her mother’s time is consumed with the illness of the adored son. Her only outlet after the abuse and her invisibility ensures she tries to alleviate some of her brother’s pain by her own suffering by offering herself up to the local boys throughout her life. This reaction and her seemingly incapacity for finding any joy or brightness in her life even as her education progresses and her life moves on and away from her beloved/hated/absorbing sibling is not odd at all. Her whole life was consumed with his illness so for those of us who have lived through huge trauma, days when continuous pain hardly lets you draw breath and it is like drowning. Her behaviour and reactions are true to life. When you never get shown a chink in the darkness especially by the influencers in your life then this pervading deep dark and yes at times depressive motif is absolutely recreated in minutia. When you are in the vortex of depression, surrounded by the anticipation of death, mixed in with the religiocantation of familiar rhythms that no longer comfort but act as a prelude to heart breaking pain what choice do you have but to follow.
Editors' note: Join us for the next book club meeting on Monday 9th March, when we'll be discussing bell hooks' Ain't I A Woman.
We welcome submissions to the blog, subject to editorial review, please contact us if you're interested. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the IFN.