Posted by: Lisa Hill | March 14, 2019

Exploded View, by Carrie Tiffany

I have really, really liked Carrie Tiffany’s previous fiction, and was eagerly anticipating reading her new one … so I can’t begin to tell you how disappointed I am by her latest book, Exploded View.  If it had been written by anybody else I wouldn’t have read it at all.  I would have abandoned it as soon as I realised, and now I wish I had: it’s yet another one about a child damaged by sustained abuse, a topic so done to death I can’t believe that contemporary authors and publishers think there is anything new or insightful to say about it.

The book is unrelentingly sombre, and mercifully short.

If you like wallowing in the unpleasantness of grim fiction à la Sophie Laguna and Emma Donoghue you might like it.  I loathed it.

Enough said…

The only review to balance mine that I can find tonight is at Readings.

Author: Carrie Tiffany
Title: Exploded View
Publisher: Text Publishing, 2019, 192 pages
ISBN: 9781925773415
Source: Bayside Library


Responses

  1. Now tell us how you really feel, Lisa 🤣

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    • Kim, if I told you about the images in my head tonight, you’d have nightmares too. I was never abused as a child, but I have taught children who were, and knowing in graphic detail what happened to one in particular makes reading this type of book repulsive to me.
      And what is the point of it, after all? Everybody knows it happens, and everybody knows the impact is horrific and long-lasting. I don’t think we need gratuitous fiction about it.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Quite. I’ve read my fair share. If done well it can shine a spotlight on an issue that up until very recently was never talked about, but if it’s gratuitous then it actually feeds into the problem in the first place. That said, I did watch the 4-hour documentary about the Michael Jackson abuse (“Leaving Neverland”), which was screened on TV last week, and it was a revelation to me, not that the abuse can be so long lasting, but that the victims can be so emotionally tortured by their love/idolisation of their abuser and their knowledge that they had no choice/knew no better and had their childhoods effectively stolen. I thought it was an exemplary feat of documentary making; watching it has changed me forever.

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        • Ah yes, Michael Jackson. You know me, I know nothing about popular culture. But years ago, knowing as little as I do, I raised the likelihood of there being something going on. If I, on the other side of the world and knowing nothing about anything, had an inkling, you can bet that plenty of other people knew more than that and none of the current fuss is a surprise.

          Liked by 1 person

      • I totally agree with you on this. It’s almost as if there a certain subsection of authors who are determined to out-grim one another on matters of abuse.

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        • Well, if what Angela Savage says (below) that this ‘novel’ is autobiographical is true, then perhaps that’s not the case with this book, but rather that it’s perhaps some kind of catharsis.
          I’ve met Carrie at an author event, she’s a lovely person and if any of what’s in this book represents her experience, that’s a very terrible thing.
          But that doesn’t mean that I would have been willing to read the book if I had known…

          Liked by 1 person

          • That really is awful, and yes, in the case of an author writing fiction based on personal experiences, it can most definitely be cathartic…for them. It can magnify the horror for the reader though.

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  2. Going to have to disagree with you on this one, Lisa. I thought Exploded View was mesmerising. As Jessie Coke suggests, the muted rage of the narrator stands in contrast with the externalised rage of men in novels about toxic masculinity, like The Shepherd’s Hut, for example. It’s not giving anything away to say that the novel is Carrie’s most autobiographical work, and I think she is calling on readers not just to bear witness to the abuse, but to respect the narrator’s survival strategies – her acts of sabotage.

    But that’s just my opinion.

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    • Hello Angela, I appreciate your opinion, and I really am sorry if it is autobiographical.
      However, that doesn’t change my experience of reading it. I am still shaking off the images it evoked in my head, and I still wish I hadn’t read it. (A bit like The Story of O, I wish I’d never read that one too.)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I didn’t know abuse was a thing until I was well into adulthood, but have since known and loved abused people and it is clearly something the victim never gets over. I’m with you in that I could not bear to be asked to identify with a protagonist who was being abused; and also in relation to Michael Jackson – his relationship with his young live-in friends was clearly wrong and I would frequently argue with my young teenage daughter about exactly that point.

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    • I didn’t know when I was young either, but it’s not books like this that are needed. Books like this aren’t going to be read by the sort of people who’ll fall victim to it or turn a blind eye to it or not see it happening under their very noses. They aren’t going to be read by politicians who need to act.
      What’s needed is the sort of protective behaviours programs that have been taught in schools for decades now, and they need to be compulsory so that religious schools can’t opt out. More than that we need girls and women to have the sort of education that fits them to live confidently and independently, so that they are less likely to get trapped in abusive situations. We need refuges and shelters so that people can escape and we need anger management programs for men, and we need to educate for a change of mindset among perpetrators so that they don’t grow up believing that they have a right to use other people’s bodies for their own gratification.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. I actively avoid books on this topic now, unless I am tricked by the blurb and get caught out!

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    • And that’s exactly what’s happened here. I simply registered that this was an author whose work I love and didn’t twig from the blurb, which simply says “What if you were to choose a tool to love? Not a different one every day or every week, but the same tool for your whole life? Father man would be a hammer. My mother would be a rag. I would be a knife.”
      It’s clearer from the inside cover flap blurb, but I didn’t read that…

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Given that I read in last weekend’s book review pages that she herself was abused as a child and how she still suffers from it to this day, I was very disappointed to read your ‘review’ of this one – though I can’t really comment given that I haven’t read it yet. It may fail as a book for some, but it’s nevertheless a harsh comment on the author’s experience. And I agree with an earlier comment that there are so many books about toxicity in men that I’d rather read something that gives the unheard perspective of the survivors.

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    • Hello Annette, I didn’t see that review, and if I had, I wouldn’t have read the book. I don’t read memoirs of abuse, and honestly, I’m surprised that if that information is now public, the publisher didn’t signal it in the book, especially since this is such a departure from her previous work.
      PS I’ve just checked the book again, and it says at the beginning of the book that it’s a work of fiction and any resemblance to actual events or to actual persons, living or dead, is unintended.
      If this isn’t true, how is a reader supposed to know? What I wrote is not a comment on her experience, how could it be?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I haven’t read this, and I don’t know if I will, but like you I’ve really liked Tiffany’s earlier work so have been interested. I had no idea what its subject matter was, either.

    However, I have respond to your comment that “I can’t believe that contemporary authors and publishers think there is anything new or insightful to say about it.” I think there *can* always be something new or insightful to say about any given topic. I’ve been continually surprised, for example, about the different ways people have found to write about the Holocaust. I’m not arguing that you should read it, of course, and I don’t know what insight Tiffany has brought to the topic. I’m just saying that I don’t agree that writers can’t come up with new ways of writing about something.

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    • Well, I just wish they’d give it a rest. It was a relief to read Trevor Shearston’s Hare’s Fur about a good man who takes care of some runaway kids and *doesn’t* take advantage of them.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I guess the answer to that is horses for courses… Or, different strokes for different folks? I don’t want to be in the business of telling people what to write?

        Still, I take your point. There are many good men out there. Times are tough for them right now, because these few, really, have sullied their gender.

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        • I’m not telling anyone what to write. But I am being upfront about what I don’t want to read.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. I will probably read this at some stage, but I am now forewarned. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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    • Thank you, Jennifer, much appreciated.

      Like


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