Man, life is so flipping fragile it’s a wonder any of us survive past infancy. I work at a children’s hospital and see all the ways that one gene flips or one chromosome is duplicated or deleted and suddenly bam, your lifespan goes from 75 to 14, so I have always been acutely aware of this fact (I was real fun during pregnancy, trust me).
My problem is I see the race as having been won. I’ve made it this far and so I’m safe, all the near misses have just been flavor to add to my story. Maggie O’Farrell seems to harbor no such delusions, discussing the seventeen brushes with death that make up her story.
I can’t decide if it was a good or a bad idea to lead with her best story, a tale of an encounter every woman I know has experienced the like of, vaguely ominous, a man finding the author on a hike and making her uncomfortable until he slips his binocular strap over her neck to ostensibly show her something. O Farrell does an amazing job of lacing her description of the events with equal parts menace and ambiguity, you hate the officers who take her statement while kind of understanding that in a situation like hers the menace is all implied, so the recitation of what happened is fairly pedestrian. You almost believe she exaggerated until a different set of detectives take her statement more attentively and O Farrell instantly knows he’s strangled someone with his binoculars.
An unsettling read, but none of the other stories shine like the opener as they lack its distinctive statement of purpose. But what an opener. Read that, it bumped my review up a star.