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A fiercely funny and touching debut novel about a girl with a sharp and mischievous voice of her own – and her quest to discover the truth about her sister’s death
‘I want to be awful. I want to do awful things and why not? Dull is dull is dull is my life. Like now, it’s night, not yet time for bed but too late to be outside, and the two of them reading reading reading with their eyes moving like the lights inside a copy machine. When I was helping put the dishes in the washer tonight, I broke a plate. I said sorry Ma it slipped. But it didn’t slip, that’s how I am sometimes, and I want to be worse. Awful is easy if you make it your one and only.’
Fear doesn't come naturally to Mathilda Savitch. She prefers to look right at the things nobody else can bring themselves to mention: for example, the fact that her beloved older sister is dead, pushed in front of a train by a man who is still on the loose. Still, after a year of spying and provocations, she's no closer to the truth about her sister's death than the day it happened. When Mathilda finally cracks her email password, a secret life opens up, one that swiftly draws her into a world of clouded motives and strange emotion. Somewhere in it lies the key to waking her family up from their dream of grief. To cross into that underworld and see what her sister saw, she has to risk everything that matters to her.
Mathilda Savitch is furiously funny, awkward and tender; a compelling page-turner, and the debut of an extraordinary novelistic talent.
"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.
'...the tension crackles as Mathilda's savage monologue rattles on, constantly surprising and heartbreakingly funny' Psychologies
'There cannot be a recent portrait of downbeat, defiant adolescence that is as convincing as that of Lodato's eponymous anti-heroine' Guardian
'Constantly surprising and heartbreakingly funny' PsychologiesFrom the Author:
Random Notes on Mathilda Savitch,
by Victor Lodato.
The voice of Mathilda Savitch arrived one morning with a kind of crazy force. I remember staring out the bedroom window, not quite awake, when I began to speak, in an urgent whisper, the first words of the novel. As a playwright I'm used to hearing voices, but Mathilda's was particularly insistent and wildly seductive. Though her first words seemed a bit ominous (`I want to be awful. I want to do awful things'), I knew immediately that this was the voice of a child, that the words had no evil in them but rather issued forth from a character of great willfulness and energy, someone refusing to be contained. I spent the next several years recording everything I heard this child say. Truly, I felt more like a secretary than a writer.
I know it must sound odd, even a bit precious, to speak of Mathilda as separate from myself, as some sort of stray radio frequency buzzing in my ear. Perhaps the perception of this `other' is nothing more than a trick my brain plays on itself. Nonetheless, I seem unable to get very far as a writer unless some part of me is convinced that my characters have lives and wills separate from my own. Of course, over time I began to see that Mathilda and I had a lot in common. When I started the novel, it was almost exactly one year since 9/11. Terrorism hovers in the background of Mathilda's world as well and, I suppose, by borrowing this child's voice, I was able to address my own fear and confusion and anger in a very open and innocent way. It was liberating to write in the voice of a child, from the perspective of someone who is still learning the world and interpreting its complexities for the first time. Interestingly, for me the novel began one year after 9/11, whereas for Mathilda the story begins one year after the death of her beloved older sister. Her parents have become frozen by sadness and fail to provide the girl with any map or guidance on how to grieve. Mathilda must find her own way across this dark landscape.
This all sounds terribly depressing but, in fact, what I recall most vividly about the writing process is the way Mathilda made me laugh. It seems that when I'm dealing with some darkness in subject matter, my mind and body instinctively hunt out the humour. I don't think I would have been able to spend six years working on this novel without the release of laughter.
Also, at the heart of the book is a mystery that Mathilda is attempting to solve, a mystery about her sister's death. For a long time I remained in the dark, hunting for clues. I was rarely ahead of Mathilda. We edged toward the truth together. It was this detective work, coupled with the exuberance of the voice, that kept me writing.
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Book Description Fourth Estate, 2009. Hardcover. Condition: New. Seller Inventory # DADAX0007322224