Monday, July 11, 2011

"Annabel" by Kathleen Winter

Annabel is a novel about intersexuality – basically that. The child of Jacinta, a rather strange mindless woman with flashes of genius and Treadway – a trapper of very few words but impeccable principles, is born intersex. The parents decide that the child will grow up male and surgery is performed in order to enable this – by and large.

But Wayne, the child (and the parents) always know that there is something different about him – and the novel explores the psychological journey which he takes to eventually ditching his pills and allowing his bodiliness to have its way.

It is dull. It is tedious and it is dreary. For a book which was listed for the Orange prize, all I can say is YAWN! Everything about it is completely obvious. The mother nurtures things in her heart, but can’t talk to anyone about them. She cooks a lot and remembers what it was like to live in a slightly more habitable place that the Labrador coast. The father is a mono-dimentional. He traps. He likes the outdoors. He doesn’t say much. He eats caribou. He talks to birds.

The son is so passive about everything that one just loses interest. And everything which happens to him – down to the violent abuse he receives from workmates when he finally goes to the city – is completely expected. The only thing which is not expected, is that he can be so bloody boring in the living of his life!

And yes, I get it – the Labrador coast is inhospitable – and that is what it is like when you are intersex. Page, after page, after page of inhospitability. I really did get it! I got it quite early on and had to endure it for the rest of the book. (Gosh – maybe that was the point! But please – enough!)

Don’t read this book. It is a monumental waste of time! Don’t read it if you are in any way interested in intersexuality – it will teach you nothing at all. Don’t read this book. It is just too tedious for words.

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