Saturday, 7 November 2015

The Shining Girls.

Have you ever looked at a piece of art that you find an incredible creative act and yet you would struggle to describe as a thing of beauty because the subject matter it depicts is so horrendous? So you furrow in some dark soil hoping to unearth some adjective that does justice to the feelings stirred by your sensory interaction with an artists creation. When you look at something as disturbing as certain pieces of art by Goya or Francis Bacon or William Blake which also touch you on some entirely humane level. One that makes you want to shed a tear that has nothing to do with grief.
Lauren Beauke's The Shining Girls touched me on just such a level. Not just be engaging with the craft of storytelling which is totally in tune with the times you are living through. (Sensibility-wise not enduring a series of connected murders mind you.) The novel skips through decades down a bloody chronology locking the reader into the narrative in an uncomfortable fashion that by virtue of witnessing we feel almost complicit. It is a terrifying level of empathy created by a very talented writer. The time traveling killer in this book is a beast loose in amok time. One of the vilest creations I have ever found in print. Just as the young heroine is a luminous joy of a brave heart. I almost hesitate to use the word but as I put down my copy of The Shining Girls on the monday morning following the Saturday night I picked it up one word came to mind...

Some houses are born bad. It was probably Shirley Jackson or Stephen King Or Richard Matheson who suggested this. A rabid collection of something that is more than just bricks and mortar. All bad angles and nasty views, patient and cruel. There is just such a house in The Shining Girls. One that should have been torn down and the ground cemented over so that no bad seed could once more take root there.