The Ugly Misogyny at the Heart of Sally Rooney’s “Beautiful World”

SPOILERS! TRIGGER WARNING: abuse, sexual assault, misogyny, men’s violence against women, violent porn I fell in love with Sally Rooney’s fiction back in April 2019 when her second novel, Normal People, hit the shelves. I admired her astute psychological observations, rendered in prose that scraped away all pretense. Some readers felt it was an expertContinue reading “The Ugly Misogyny at the Heart of Sally Rooney’s “Beautiful World””

On Father’s Day Weekend

My father kept an old Yamaha acoustic guitar in his bedroom. Sometimes I ran my child-round fingertips over the strings just to see if it was still in tune. It was, then. I whispered secrets into the sound hole, and it always whispered back. It smelled of dust and spruce and something metallic, like aContinue reading “On Father’s Day Weekend”

After He Strangled Me

The next morning I went downstairs to breakfast in the dining hall as usual, but it wasn’t usual. I sat beside my brother, poking my spoon into the cereal I’d let go soggy, and I avoided looking up from my bowl. My hands were shaking. My pulse throbbed in my throat. I had done everythingContinue reading “After He Strangled Me”

The Ninth Assault

Webbstock is a tradition at Webb Institute going back to 1979. All about booze and bands, it runs from daybreak until long after sundown the first weekend in June. Students, alumni, their families, and close friends are all welcome to attend. There’s an all-day barbecue along with adult bouncy castles, inflatable slides, and other carnival-flavoredContinue reading “The Ninth Assault”

In the Aftermath

Jonathan’s assault was among the least violent of the assaults I’ve survived. In fact, to some people, it isn’t an assault at all. But its effects have been every bit as long-lasting and devastating as the rest of the abuse. *             *             * It wasn’t what he did. It was who he was. He wasContinue reading “In the Aftermath”

The Eighth Assault

You think you know someone. You let your guard down because you tell yourself they wouldn’t. They couldn’t possibly. They’re practically family. Maybe they’re shitty to other people sometimes, other women. But not to you. Never you. *             *             * I’d known Jonathan since he was in junior high. He had come home with myContinue reading “The Eighth Assault”

After a Father Sexually Assaults His Daughter

The next thing I remember is shaking out black garbage bags. I bagged up the clothes from my closet, taking armfuls of sweaters and blouses and skirts with the hangers still attached. I wadded up my sheets and pillows. I stuffed everything into the bags and knotted them closed. I don’t know if this wasContinue reading “After a Father Sexually Assaults His Daughter”

My Other Grandfather

My father’s father was made of different stuff. I never knew him as Grandpa because he died the year I was born. There is only one picture of us together, and in it, he sits stiff and unsmiling, his wire-rim glasses glinting at the camera. He has my father’s long solemn face and the sameContinue reading “My Other Grandfather”

The Fourth Assault

I really believed the worst of it was behind me. I would graduate from college in less than two years, and I would leave my parents’ house, and I would be safe. I thought I could tell who was an abuser and who wasn’t. I knew I could tell the difference. I had to believeContinue reading “The Fourth Assault”