Authors: Glen Duncan
Tags: #Fiction, #General
Also by Glen Duncan
Death of an Ordinary Man
The Bloodstone Papers
A Day and a Night and a Day
The Last Werewolf
Published in Great Britain in 2012
by Canongate Books Ltd, 14 High Street, Edinburgh EH1 1TE
Copyright © Glen Duncan, 2012
The moral right of the author has been asserted
‘The Child Dying’ taken from
by Edwin Muir copyright © the Estate of Edwin Muir and reprinted by permission of Faber and Faber Ltd
The Devil Tree
, copyright © 1973, 1981 by Jerzy Kosinski and reprinted by permission of Grove/Atlantic, Inc
Every effort has been made to trace copyright holders and obtain their permission for the use of copyright material. The publisher apologises for any errors or omissions and would be grateful if notified of any corrections that should be incorporated in future reprints or editions of this book.
British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
A catalogue record for this book is available on request from the British Library
ISBN 978 1 84767 947 5
Export ISBN 978 1 84767 948 2
eISBN 978 0 85786 232 7
Typeset in Perpetua by Palimpsest Book Production Ltd,
This digital edition first published in 2012 by Canongate Books
My thanks to all at Canongate in the UK, Knopf in the US and Text Publishing in Australia, especially: Francis Bickmore, Jamie Byng, Jenny Todd, Norah Perkins, Lorraine McCann, Angela Robertson, Cate Cannon, Jaz Lacey-Campbell, Polly Collingridge, Andrea Joyce, Morven Dooner, Marty Asher, Sonny Mehta, Diana Coglianese, Kim Thornton, Ruth Liebmann, Peter Mendelsund, Mandy Brett and Jane Novak. Once again I’m indebted to my brilliant agents, Jonny Geller in London and Jane Gelfman in New York, and to my friends and family, without whose support and occasional salutary ridicule I would have long ago gone off my nut. They are: Louise Maker, Mark Duncan, Marina Hardiman, Stephen Coates, Nicola Stewart, Jon Field, Vicky Hutchinson, Pete Sollett, Eva Vives, Andrea Freeman, Glen & Dave Teasdale, Bryn & Sally Teasdale, Sarah Forest, Ben Ball, Paige Simpson, Alice Naylor, Jon Cairns, Gavin Butt, Nicola Harwood, Tracy Ryan, Mike Loteryman and Anna Baker Jones. Special thanks to my inspirational Ma and Pa, and finally to Kim Teasdale, for all the usual reasons, but chiefly for allowing me to steal her best ideas and take credit for them.
SUGAR AND SPICE AND ALL THINGS NICE
Talulla Demetriou, you have been a Very
My mother always said this with a glimmer of delight in her eyes. She was a Very Bad Girl herself. What she hated above all was weakness. Especially in women. She’d rather pure evil.
was pure evil, when she had to be. She acknowledged an elite: our family, a handful of friends, certain celebrities. The rest of the world was made up of idiots and mediocrities.
, she called them.
(God being dead, irony still rollickingly alive...)
Later, courtesy of my psycho-terrorist Catholic Aunt Theresa, I discovered I was also a Dirty Little Girl. A Dirty,
Little Girl, to be precise. When I was eight she caught me and Toby Greely in the basement examining each other’s private parts. One minute Toby and I were alone, watched by the room’s stunned miscellany – cardboard boxes and a broken ping-pong table and some rolled-up sunshades – the next the silence shifted and I knew someone else was there. Aunt Theresa stood on the bottom step. Her face was always moist from Pond’s Cold Cream but right then it shone with what looked like newly minted divinity.
face, when I turned it to her, was hot and overfull. I had a rich soft feeling because of my pants round my ankles and Toby on his knees and the silence that had cocooned us while he’d taken his long, careful – and indeed tender
look. I’d been close to some big revelation, I believed, and along with horror at being discovered was queenly annoyance at being interrupted. Even then I was thinking Toby and I would have to get back to this, soon.
‘Talulla Demetriou,’ Aunt Theresa said, ‘you are a dirty little girl.’ And then, since that didn’t quite cover it: ‘A dirty,
The Dirty Filthy Little Girl was pretty and liked bad things. In Tenth Grade she was friends with Lauren Miller, who was also pretty and also liked bad things. For example there was a drippy and permanently cold-sored girl they tormented and nicknamed NODOR (No Danger of Rape). One day the Dirty Filthy Little Girl was sitting on Jason Wells’s lap at recess and Lauren called out something awful to NODOR as she went by and you could see from NODOR’s face it really hurt her, hurt her in her
, and at the same time Jason’s hard-on was pressing against the Dirty Filthy Little Girl’s ass and the Dirty Filthy Little Girl got the rich soft feeling again and knew there was a connection. It was like the Devil putting his arms around you from behind and you leaning back into it and enjoying the lovely surprising warmth.
At college the Very Bad Dirty Filthy Little Girl knew once and for all she was an agent for the forces of darkness. She was the worst kind of young woman: one who recognised the proactively politicised female she ought to become, then didn’t become it, but instead carried on being attracted to evil guys and having the wrong kind of sexual fantasies and making herself look as attractive as possible and ultimately accepting that she was too selfish and good-looking and lazy and perverted to ever live the kind of life she knew she ought to. By the end of her sophomore year she was openly reading the wrong authors and no longer going through Gethsemane every time she wore a sexy dress or a pair of politically bankrupt shoes or let a guy fuck her in the ass, which, to be fair to her, was a privilege she granted very (pause)
(pause) selectively, and often with mixed feelings or when completely hammered.
Finally, the Very Bad Dirty Filthy Little Girl capped her career of moral slippage by dropping out of her Masters in Literature and becoming a businesswoman. A servant of Mammon! With no great surprise – in fact with loose-limbed satisfaction – she discovered she had a penchant for what a later lover (the lover to end all lovers) would call ‘the smut and savvy of American Trade’. Her mother was both disappointed and sufficiently vain to be flattered by how much like her her daughter had turned out.
Given the Very Bad Dirty Filthy Little Girl’s record, it was astonishing that when her marriage collapsed it wasn’t because she was cheating on her husband, but because he was cheating on her. She enjoyed a brief sojourn on the moral high ground.
‘Brief’ being the operative word. No sooner had she got used to the toothsome satisfaction of being
all sorts of lousy things but at least I’m not a fucking liar you miserable fuck
than she got bitten by a werewolf one night in the Arizona desert, and was forced to say goodbye to the moral high ground for ever. She discovered that not only could she kill and eat people once a month, but she could kill and eat people once a month and
Until she found out she was pregnant. Then a whole new species of trouble began.
‘Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a mother’s love is not.’
James Joyce –
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
‘Oh, mon Dieu
,’ Cloquet said, when he opened the lodge door and saw me on the floor. ‘Fuck.’
I was on my side, knees drawn up, face wet with sweat. Pregnancy and the hunger didn’t get along. Hated each other, in fact. I pictured the baby pressing werewolf fingernails against my womb, five bits of broken glass on the skin of a balloon. And only myself to blame: when I could’ve got rid of it I didn’t want to. Now that I wanted to it was too late. Conscience from the old life said:
Serves you right.
I’d fired conscience months back, but it was still hanging around, miserable, unshaven, nowhere else to go.