H ere is the opening paragraph of Eimear McBride’s debut novel, A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing:
“For you. You’ll soon. You’ll give her name. In the stitches of her skin she’ll wear your say. Mummy me? Yes you. Bounce the bed, I’d say. I’d say that’s what you did. Then lay you down. They cut around. Wait and hour and day.”
The two-year-old female narrator is, we soon learn, addressing her older brother (anonymously “you” throughout). Within a few pages the reader’s eye and ear have adapted to the surface oddness of the text, seduced by the beautiful syncopations of McBride’s prose as she charts her unnamed narrator’s development from infancy to the age of twenty. This is set against her growing alienation from a pious mother and the harsh demands of Irish Catholicism.