I Am The Brother Of XX by Fleur Jaeggy and Gini Alhadeff (translator)

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I Am The Brother Of XX by Fleur Jaeggy and Gini Alhadeff (translator)

Category: Short Stories
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Megan Kenny
Reviewed by Megan Kenny
Summary: I Am The Brother Of XX is a darkly delicious collection of short stories, seething with quiet violence and mayhem. Jaeggy's dreamy, savage tales are lovingly translated by Gini Alhadeff.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 144 Date: July 2017
Publisher: And Other Stories
ISBN: 9781911508021

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I Am The Brother of XX is a collection of twenty one short stories from Fleur Jaeggy, who expertly wields malevolence and spite throughout, from the evil done between husband and wife in The Aviary, a nasty tale of Oedipal menace and vicious, although admittedly, artful cruelty, to senseless annihilation and immolation in The Heir. Jaeggy also appears to have a particular fascination with religion, from the nun receiving a rather special sort of communion in The Visitor to general references to the Church and religious devotion throughout many of her stories. Family is also a recurrent theme; whether focused on the distance between siblings in the titular story, told from the point of view of a brother filled with longing and loneliness trying to create a bond with his distant older sister, or the primal need to protect the bond between mother and son, regardless of the cost in Adelaide.

The characters here are wicked and brutal, their actions shockingly depraved and thrillingly ferocious which makes it easy to devour these stories and I'm sure it would be easy to consume, or be consumed by it, in one sitting. Jaeggy is not afraid to shy away from themes of heartbreak and unrequited love, be that between friends or the love of a devoted woman to her religion. She is also able to weave together moments of breath-taking beauty with crushing violence, often within the same sentence, and it is obvious that she has a lyrical and alluring way with words, which is helped immeasurably by the excellent translation done by Gini Alhadeff.

This is a short, sharp shock of a book, a slender volume bursting with quietly seething rage and eerie tales of mayhem and destruction. Many of the stories are less than ten pages long which leaves the reader disorientated and struggling to identify with the characters, plot or direction of the narrative. This is not a criticism, in fact it is one of the strengths of Jaeggy's work which will surely provoke strong feelings in anyone reading them. If you are a fan of loose narratives with spiky dialogue and deeply unpleasant characters then this collection is sure to thrill you. The stories here are moving, even in the depths of unpleasantness, and Jaeggy is fearless in the face of the often ugly truth behind life and relationships, both with ourselves and others. That stories which feature murder, mayhem, sadness and betrayal could be so poetic and moving is surely a testament to the talent of Jaeggy. If you have never read any of her work before then this would be a good introduction and I would recommend you give I Am The Brother Of XX a chance.

For those interested in reading more menacing short stories, you could try Red Spikes by Margo Lanagan.

Buy I Am The Brother Of XX by Fleur Jaeggy and Gini Alhadeff (translator) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy I Am The Brother Of XX by Fleur Jaeggy and Gini Alhadeff (translator) at Amazon.co.uk.


Buy I Am The Brother Of XX by Fleur Jaeggy and Gini Alhadeff (translator) at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy I Am The Brother Of XX by Fleur Jaeggy and Gini Alhadeff (translator) at Amazon.com.


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