Gabriel Tallent – My Absolute Darling


This review contains spoilers and graphic descriptions.

The last time I was disturbed by a book was when I read Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life. Surely Gabriel Tallent’s debut doesn’t reach those heights )or depths) but it does come close.

In fact despite the fact that both books tackle the same subject, which is graphic abuse, A Little Life comes out of the better book but I’ll go into that later but it’s funny how one book can share the same traits, and in my opinion fail.

As I stated My Absolute Darling deals with abuse. In this case it is between  father, Martin, and his 14 year old daughter, Julia/Turtle/Kibble and Tallent goes into all aspects of abuse, both sexual and  mental. Not only does he rape and beat his daughter but Martin also makes sure that Julia needs him and yet he also puts her through tests which involve abuse and teaches her how to use a gun. There are some more surprises about Martin and his ‘games’ but I don’t want to spoil to much.

Tallent not only focuses on the abuser but he also examines how Julia reacts and how it affects her social life. Due to Martin she finds it difficult to make friends, interact with her teachers and when she finally does find a friend, her and her father’s traits come out  which lead to a conclusion that is both epic and tense.

Despite the in depth look at abuse, I found one major flaw with my Absolute Darling and that is Tallent’s writing style. something which annoyed me from beginning to end.  His prose is staccato, like a machine gun firing. It is comprised of short sentences but then very long ones as well. Think of a third rate Don DeLillo. Actually I would go as far to say that I HATED Tallent’s style and it affected my reading of this novel. I hope that this type of prose is not considered the future of US literature because then it is seriously flawed.

I would like to know if other people who read this book had the same problem, or is it just me?