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A place where one writer can chronicle the process of turning an idea into a story--through endless iterations....

Monday, May 21, 2012

Book Review: Castles: A Fictional Memoir of a Girl with Scissors, by Benjamin X Wretlind

Five Stars


Are you done? If you said “yes”, I’m assuming you’re lying, because after reading the book you’re not going to need to read this review. So I’m going to assume you’re either a bald faced liar, or you’re just really bad at following directions.

Castles: A Fictional Memoir of a Girl with Scissors is, without a doubt, the best book I’ve read in years. Part horror, part lit-fic, Castles tells the story of Maggie, a girl who lives in a trailer park on the edge of the desert. It is the chilling tale of the psychological effects of a childhood of abuse, and the damage that can be done when a child is raised in a culture where violence is used to insidiously strip young women of their senses of autonomy and self worth. But it’s also a story that gives us a perverse sense of hope, that when the world is damaged beyond the hope of justice, sometimes retribution can be divine.

The brilliance of Castles is not just in Maggie’s voice, which is itself sublimely woven; it is in the universality of Maggie’s tale. This story RESONATES. The effects of a culture of violent and sexual oppression on the psyche of young women are universal, and Maggie’s story could have just as easily taken place in the streets of Compton or Calcutta, or on the border of the Australian outback or the jungles of Brazil. And this is the genius of Benjamin X Wretlind’s writing—you cannot help but identify with the all-too-human Maggie.

Woven through the story is a tale of dark horror and divine retribution. But in the end we’re left to wonder if the supernatural elements are the work of God or the Devil, or the product of a mind brought past the point of breaking by a world out of control. Without trying to spoil the book, in the end Maggie’s story is one of retribution and redemption.

Now, go read the book.


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