The soul and the harpy. reflections on the aims and methods of literary historiography
Lucy and Jake live in a house by a field where the sun burns like a ball of fire. Lucy has set her career aside in order to devote her life to the children, to their finely tuned routine, and to the house itself, which comforts her like an old, sly friend. The revelation marks a turning point: Lucy and Jake decide to stay together, but make a special arrangement deed to even the score and save their marriage—she will hurt him three times.
As the couple submit to a delicate game of crime and punishment, Lucy herself begins to change, surrendering to a transformation of both mind and body from which there is no return. Told in dazzling, musical prose, The Harpy is a dark, staggering fairy tale, at once mythical and otherworldly and fiercely contemporary. It is a novel of love, marriage and its failures, of power, control and revenge, of metamorphosis and renewal.
A scarily satisfying read. By blurring the boundaries of the two — a mild poisoning and revenge pornography occupy the same textual category of harm — the novel sketches out the unsettling psychological terrain that can lie beneath bourgeois marital composure. A predictable sentence? A sequence of words that has been committed to paper hundreds, perhaps thousands of times before? It culminates in a startling, effective, and eerie climax where mimesis meets mythology.
When Lucy learns her husband has been having an affair, she seeks to even the score with three acts of revenge. This contemporary fairytale is a talon-sharp look at the stultifying effect domesticity can have on women.
The premise is so simple, and the execution so flawless. It feels like a fairy tale not only because of its aura of mystery and the purity of its structure, but because the story itself is so fundamental you could imagine it being told and re-told in a thousand different forms. In a way, the book feels more discovered than crafted, like the manuscript ought to have been found locked in a trunk in an attic somewhere, or translated off an an old rock slab. It is a book about love and betrayal — that between husband and wife, and parent and child — and it is devastating in its evocation of the expense and sometimes fatal strain of passion, grief, and rage.
Her use of language too is deceptive in that way — seemingly simple and yet so acute and complex. Reading The Harpy I was utterly spellbound.
Her dark humour and pointillist prose put her in league with Lydia Davis and Jenny Offill, masterfully rendering the emotional shock of a protagonist finding her life has become story. She confronts the fear of female anger and asks us what happens when pain that has been swallowed through generations begins to rush to the surface.
Compulsively absorbing yet otherworldly, both a fever dream and a gorgeous and alarming howl of rage. Megan Hunter is a distinctive force of talent who portrays scenes of marriage, young parenthood, and mutable womanhood in fierce and fresh ways.
Earn by promoting books
I utterly loved it. Hunter imbues the everyday with apocalyptic unease. A deeply unsettling, excellent read. Not just with what the sentence said, but because the writing was so very, very good.
The specter of what and when they will be hangs over them both. Intense and oh, so imaginative, this story captivated me from the first .
But there is a postdiluvian hope on these s. There is meaning in community, in simple things, and in words and family. A world can be as small as three people, but it can contain multitudes.
Everyone who re this will come away feeling renewed. Grove Press. Tags Literary.
Newsletters, offers and promotions delivered straight to your inbox. Enter Address Related Books. June Chambermaid by Saira Rao. An Independent Literary Publisher Since