All your walkmans fizz in tune

Adam Mars-Jones

  • BuyA Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride
    Galley Beggar, 203 pp, £11.00, June 2013, ISBN 978 0 9571853 2 6

To go on a starvation diet in terms of the comma (including the inverted ones that designate speech), as Eimear McBride does in her remarkable, harshly satisfying first novel, may not seem a particularly drastic discipline, set beside such feats as eliminating the letter ‘e’ (Perec’s La Disparition, Englished by Gilbert Adair as A Void) or telling Ophelia’s side of the story using only the words Shakespeare allots her (Paul Griffiths’s Let Me Tell You). McBride compensates by scattering full stops with a liberal, raisin-loaf-making hand, but her avoidance of commas is enough to shake up other conventions.

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