Hello Mr. Bones and Goodbye Mr. Rat
By Patrick McCabe. (Quercus, 288 pages, $24.99.)
Dark. Sinister. Vaguely threatening. I expected that from Patrick McCabe. (The celebrated Irish author best known for his 1992 novel "The Butcher Boy," in which a troubled young man retreats into violent madness.) So I wasn't surprised that I found his new novellas unsettling. What surprised me is that I also found them unsatisfying.
Both stories are told by demented, deceased narrators who joyfully engineer the unraveling of other, seemingly innocent, characters.
Instead of enjoying the ghoulish ride, I found myself less than charmed by McCabe's elliptical writing and rooting for the victims in his dark, sinister and clearly threatening stories.
Senior editor for lifestyles
Finding Me: A Decade of Darkness, a Life Reclaimed
By Michelle Knight. (Weinstein Books, 252 pages, $24.99.)
As a claustrophobic, I have always been inordinately interested in people who were taken hostage and denied their freedom, or in inmates in small cells. So when in May 2013, I learned that three young women had escaped from a Cleveland home where they were tortured and abused, I wanted to know more, particularly how they coped.
Michelle Knight, one of the three, has provided those details in her book, "Finding Me." And while the horrors for the three are beyond belief, particularly in Knight's case, it is her subtitle — "a Life Reclaimed" — that makes the book truly worth reading.
After enduring a living hell, including five miscarriages induced by brutal beatings, Knight was able to confront her abuser in court and then find a new life without somehow harboring bitterness and hate.
She endured being squeezed by huge chains rapped around her torso, neck and head in a filthy basement, having socks stuffed in her mouth with a motorcycle helmet rammed over her head so she could hardly breathe and not see. By her count, she was in the basement for 90 days.
What kept Knight sane was thinking about her son, Joey, and the hope that she would see him again. She writes: "I kept seeing Joey's face in my mind, and that's what kept me alive. … I kept hearing his little voice in my mind, saying, 'Mommy, I need you.' That helped me have the strength to go on when I felt like giving up."