“My Absolute Darling,” written by Gabriel Tallent, is a horror story wrapped in exquisite prose and one of the most timely and thought-provoking novels of 2017. A breakout young novelist, Tallent will be speaking about his new book “My Absolute Darling” at Books and Books at The Studios of Key West Nov. 17 and it’s an opportunity to delve into the darkness of such a rich, original and deeply moving story.
The book tackles the extraordinary foulness of man and the profound resilience of children. Set in present time, widower and father Martin Alveston is a secluded survivalist living off the grid in Mendocino, California, raising his 14-year-old daughter, Turtle Alveston. Their dilapidated house is full of guns, stockpiled old canned food, expired medicine and past relics while mushrooms and spiders blossom from window sills. It is no place for a young girl, but for Turtle, it’s the only world she knows and she cannot understand that it is a prison. Her father is a monster dressed as a man. But Turtle’s story isn’t about hope or sentimentality; it’s about carnal instinct and survival. She becomes the kind of heroine that no adult could imagine. Turtle suffers brutality, loss, competition and abuse on the most horrific level, but battles each circumstance with the will of a warrior. She makes Katniss Everdeen from “The Hunger Games” look like a pretty pageant queen.
Tallent’s gift is in the obstacles he places before his lead character and showing her intuitive ability to conquer them. The people outside of Turtle’s world – her surly grandfather, a worried middle school teacher named Anna, and two innocent boys she befriends, Brett and Jacob – are all desperate to save her, but in the end, it is only Turtle who can save herself, escaping the stranglehold of her father, rectifying the awful entanglement with him in her head and her heart and ultimately coming to place of normalcy after an incredible odyssey.
Tallent writes with an arresting sense of language and description of both emotion and action. Turtle’s saga is vividly seen in the reader’s imagination and her natural world becomes a character in itself. The novel leaves a stunned sense of wonder that such a world can and most likely does exist.
At Books and Books @ The Studios
533 Eaton Street
Nov. 17 at 6:30 p.m.
“Mesmerizing. Once you get started you cannot put it down! In the end the novel left me satisfied and hopeful.” – Judy Blume, author