Review: The Language of Dying

THE LANGUAGE OF DYING
SARAH PINBOROUGH
PS Publishing

Blurb: A woman sits beside her father’s bedside as the night ticks away the final hours of his life. As she watches over her father, she relives the past week and the events that brought the family together . . . and she recalls all the weeks before that served to pull it apart.

There has never been anything normal about the lives raised in this house. It seems to her that sometimes her family is so colourful that the brightness hurts, and as they all join together in this time of impending loss she examines how they came to be the way they are and how it came to just be her, the drifter, that her father came home to die with.

But, the middle of five children, the woman has her own secrets . . . particularly the draw that pulled her back to the house when her own life looked set to crumble. And sitting through her lonely vigil, she remembers the thing she saw out in the fields all those years ago . . . the thing that they found her screaming for outside in the mud. As she peers through the familiar glass, she can’t help but hope and wonder if it will come again. Because it’s one of those night, isn’t it dad? A special terrible night. A full night. And that’s always when it comes. If it comes at all.

Review: In this intense novella we see an already damaged family dealing with the impending death of their father. Our narrator is the beleaguered middle child and daddy’s girl, who seems to be the rock holding everything together — until the cracks in her façade begin to show. Interactions with her siblings as they arrive for the vigil bring out the comfort of that shared experience, but also the strains of their lives together and apart. As her father’s life ebbs, she drifts into remembering the very worst times in her life and a memory of something that may or may not have happened — and what may wait outside the house. In his introduction, Graham Joyce calls the novella ‘fractured realism’ and it fits. A strong exploration of the dark spectre we must all find a way to deal with sooner or later.

– K. A. Laity

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