Girl, Eimear Mcbride & Deu Bode, Bojo du Lunar
by Kim Kent
10 months ago
I’ve had a copy of Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride for years—carried it around not reading it, as I sometimes do with novels, for no reason other than an inkling that the novel would leave a mark. When I read it a few weeks ago, over a series of sleepless nights, my reaction to it was physical: as if despite being in bed as I read it, I was in fact “running til my heart burst out.” A mix of awe and terror at the force required of me to keep going, but being unable to stop. Perhaps, I am still processing the experience of reading Girl, or more accurately being plunged inside of Girl, and the feeling of being changed by it. So, with the sense that this is a novel that will peel your skin back, one that takes from its reader with no promise of putting us back together again, and one that it is unlike anything else I’ve read, I have this to say: I think you should read this novel, and, also, I am a bit afraid of recommending it.
For one, McBride is not afraid of violence. She is also not afraid of anger, which makes her narrator and the gossamer filter we read her through all the more immediately felt. McBride’s sentences accumulate and stun and move as our brain moves: in every which direction. And the story, which is one of sexual violence, and anger about said violence, and loneliness is exceptionally cruel. Already I feel a bit of shame (another topic this novel probes relentlessly) at attempting to justify both the narrator and author (read a woman’s) authority over violence in relation to their own bodies, their own novels. But, Girl has many things to say and is not quiet about saying them.
Occasionally, with natural wine that has zero added sulfur there can be a fine line between volatility and liveliness. The Deu Bode from Bojo do Luar in the Vinho Verde region of Portugal is a lively wine. It fizzed a bit when I opened the bottle, frothed for a moment when I poured my first glass, and performed that tongue-tingling ritual in my mouth that certain still-forming wines sometimes do. A mix of white and red grapes that are fermented separately and then bottled together, the Deu Bode is a blend of 25% Vinhão, 15% Bastardo, 20% Borraçal, 25% Arinto, and 15% Loureiro hand-harvested from vines grown in primarily granitic soil, which gives its juicy fruit a nice minerally finish. It will shift as you drink it—from highly acidic when chilled (my favorite) to earthy and almost chewable as it warms. It’s a wine that makes my mouth feel the way my brain feels while reading Girl, electric. My mouth, and brain, pulled toward the inevitable end of the bottle.
Eimear McBride is an Irish novelist (born 1976) who has written three novels: A Girl is A Half Formed Thing, The Lesser Bohemians, and Strange Hotel. While these novels are not a trilogy, I’ve read them one after the other, as though they were. Girl only took McBride six months to write, but nine years to publish, which contrary to one dazzlingly awful Good Reads review I read makes her still very much a “real writer.” Girl won both the Goldsmiths Prize and the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2013.
Fernando Paiva, of Bojo du Lunar, is one of few fully biodynamic producers, and the first to be certified, in the Vinho Verde region of Portugal. Most of their projects include blends of red and white grapes, all vinified in unique ways before blending in the bottle. They are also one of a small group of biodynamic producers experimenting with the use of organic chestnut flour as an alternative to the added sulfur sometimes used by producers (in very small amounts) to stabilize the fermentation.