I decided to read The Woman Who Walked Into Doors, by Roddy Doyle, because Maya has a couple of his children’s books, and they are really clever and well written and smart. So I thought I would try one of his novels for adults. This book is pretty amazing, especially since it’s written by a man. That sounds like a pretty sweeping statement, I know, but he really seems to GET a lot of the nuances of being a woman, especially about the pressures put on us by men regarding sexuality and so on. I mentioned some of this in an earlier post. Well, I am now at the part of the book where she is being beaten by her husband. For 17 years. Ugh. Broken bones, teeth, cuts, hair pulled out of her scalp, horrid, horrid stuff. Kicking and beatings and rape. Just bad. And none of it is graphic or gratuitous or anything like that, but he again really shows the mindset of the victim…of a woman and how she got to be here. He’s an amazing author. I’m going to read some fluff novels after this, and then maybe tackle another of his books, and see if it’s as gritty and real.
(UPDATE: I finished the book last night…he started in on the oldest daughter, and the woman in the story cleaned his clock with a frying pan, and kicked him out. He never came back. What a relief. I mean, the story is told in flashbacks, and you KNOW from the first page that 1. She has kicked him out, and 2. He’s been killed, but I was definitely wondering what brought her to it, if 17 years of constant beatings wouldn’t do it. One of the saddest things about the book is that she says she would have told anyone who asked, any of the doctors or nurses, what was going on, so they could help her. But in 17 years of trips to the hospital, no one ever asked her what happened. Not once. Sad.)
One horrible thing that this book has done is made me remember when I was a girl…one of the worst, if not the worst, memories of my childhood. My mom and I were coming home from the grocery store, and all of the neighbors were standing in front of their houses, looking down the street. We looked to see what was going on. There was a woman, hanging on for dear life to the puny little tree in her front yard. She was screaming for help, while her husband tried to pull her off of the tree and bring her back into the house, so he could finish what he had started. All of these neighbors, big strong men, standing there, saying, “It’s none of my business, I’m not getting involved”. God, it makes me sick to even remember it. My mom and I went into the house, and she called the police. I remember seeing the impotent fury in her face, knowing that she wanted to DO something, but didn’t know how or what. I’m not a big strong person, and my mom is smaller than me even (though she may have still been taller than me at that point, but not for long). I remember feeling guilty, that maybe if I were to run across the street and try to help, maybe that would galvanize one of the big strong men to get involved, to help that woman. But I didn’t do it.
The next day, I went to 7-11 for something, and she was there. She worked there. She was telling another woman about how sorry he was, how he cried and begged her to forgive him. She said, “He’s always SO SORRY”, with such bitterness in her voice. I’ll never forget that day. I wish I could.