The Tell-Tale Heart
“There was a moment when I was cracked open on that bed, emptied. Rigged up, machines doing my living for me. Awaiting. My heart lifted out and somewhere else. I shouldn’t be alive; I must be monstrous, or magical. No human being can have their heart scooped out of their ribcage, be without it, while they await another, and live, can they? It’s inconceivable.”
“Where do Feelings live? Inside us surely, in our hearts. Where do they end, where do they stop? Pa’s feelings sometimes made such a vivid spark in my nature that I believe I shall not forget it in my grave.”
I struggled with this book. The culture and vernacular are not my own and I was often confused and often at sea, unable to comprehend what was transpiring on an entire page. Thank goodness for Wikipedia! The story is written from several different POVs, and I am still scratching my head over the ending when they seem to have merged. Large chunks of the book appear to be written as a stream of consciousness, with incomplete sentences and often flitting from thought to thought, which was sometimes strikingly insightful, sometimes rather brilliant, and sometimes – to me anyway – incomprehensible. I was, and still am, intrigued by the premise of the story, and the events and characters were of interest to me, I just had a problem with the execution.
About the Author:
Jill Dawson was born in Durham and grew up in Staffordshire, Essex and Yorkshire. She read American Studies at the University of Nottingham, then took a series of short-term jobs in London before studying for an MA in Writing at Sheffield Hallam University. In 1997 she was the British Council Writing Fellow at Amherst College, Massachussets.
Her writing life began as a poet, her poems being published in a variety of small press magazines, and in one pamphlet collection, White Fish with Painted Nails (1990). She won an Eric Gregory Award for her poetry in 1992.
She edited several books for Virago, including The Virago Book of Wicked Verse (1992) and The Virago Book of Love Letters (1994). She has also edited a collection of short stories, School Tales: Stories by Young Women (1990), and with co-editor Margo Daly, Wild Ways: New Stories about Women on the Road (1998) and Gas and Air: Tales of Pregnancy and Birth (2002). She is the author of one book of non-fiction for teenagers, How Do I Look? (1991), which deals with the subject of self-esteem.
Jill Dawson is the author of five novels: Trick of the Light (1996); Magpie (1998), for which she won a London Arts Board New Writers Award; Fred and Edie (2000); Wild Boy (2003); and most recently, Watch Me Disappear (2006). Fred and Edie is based on the historic murder trial of Thompson and Bywaters, and was shortlisted for the 2000 Whitbread Novel Award and the 2001 Orange Prize for Fiction.
Her next novel, The Great Lover, is due for publication in early 2009.
Jill Dawson has taught Creative Writing for many years and was recently the Creative Writing Fellow at the University of East Anglia. She lives with her family in the Cambridgeshire Fens.