Some of us take life as it comes and we accept our lot. And there are those of us who never complain and simply continue chopping wood and carrying water. But a poor ward of any sort being engaged with a personal project of one’s own design and desire in such a prohibitive life has to be proactive, and can help some to ease a troubled mind. But then, unfortunately, in the end most things never really work out, they just are.
The names of all the characters in this book seem to have some importance except for the sixteen year-old narrator. To us she remains nameless. In the opening pages she is framed as an illiterate, undeveloped virgin, but by book’s end she has mastered a word or two and learned how to put her newfound talents to use in the valley’s sex trade. She practices enough that she learns to skillfully use these so-called lesser physical attributes she was originally equipped with. But like her name, even her prostitution isn’t important, nor is her relationship with basically anyone she has relations with of any kind. She is not exactly indifferent, she just knows what it is she likes and what she does not like. Everyone seems to like her. But her greatest gift in life is her forceful persistence, backed by her relative intuition for knowing when to quit. And then, of course, some things just merely end, or become dead.
The language, at least in translation, reminds me so much of the voice of Ágota Kristóf in her Notebook
trilogy. Simple, direct sentences, yet always concealing this inner feeling of something sinister, or strange happening in the background or behind the scenes. An impending doom certain to take place. A creepy feeling of being violated, or a soiling of something pure and innocent. Narrated by the voice of a young sixteen year-old girl, short on education and life experience, the tale proceeds in typical fits and bounds similar to what any teenager might suffer being raised in a poor community if she too lacked a healthy upbringing and no mature adult direction. Her triumph exists in her always committed persistence in whatever she sets her mind to. Otherwise, hopelessness and dread, would dictate the awful fate of her true existence. Regardless, even on a good day, never does her world become what most would consider living in anyway. But then, there just might be some hope for a person of conviction who finally, and for good, can leave a lactating town.