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Tender

Tender

9781913867126
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The third and final installment of Ariana Harwicz's "Involuntary Trilogy" finds us on familiar, disquieting ground. Under the spell of a mother’s madness, the French countryside transforms into a dreamscape of interconnected imagery: animals, desire, the functions of the body. Most troublingly: the comfort of a teenage son. Scorning the bourgeois mores and conventionality of their small town, she withdraws him from school and the two embark on ever more antisocial and dangerous behaviour. Harwicz is at her best here, building an interior world so robust, and so grotesque, that it eclipses our shared reality. Savage, and savagely funny, she leaves us singed, if not scorched. 'We are used to female narrators who occupy one of several familiar niches: blandly ‘likeable’, ‘flawed’, or pathological; murderers or abusers who are profiled with just enough sympathy to make us feel humane as we judge them. Harwicz takes us somewhere more profound and forces us to confront the thought that these easy fictional ‘explanations’ are specious. Lurking inside all of us is the potential for horror' —Hari Kunzru