Monday, May 30, 2011

Tiger, Tiger by Margaux Fragoso

Why this is one of the most terrifying books I have ever read...

   Margaux Fragoso's book is one of those memoirs that is so disturbing you forget it's not fiction. Tiger, Tiger tells of Margaux's relationship with Peter Curran, a man she met at a public pool when she was 7 years old. He was 51. Peter is a pedophile and he immediately becomes obsessed with young Margaux. With a mentally unstable mother and an abusive father, Margaux finds comfort in the positive attention that Peter gives her. At first, he treats her like a daughter, but then the spell is broken by their sexual relationship that slowly begins - and continues for nearly 15 years.
   Just to warn you, many of these scenes are sexually graphic and extremely disturbing. But Margaux's relationship with Peter is complicated. On one side, she can step outside of herself and see the problems and dangers with the situation, yet the abuse has gone on so long that she does not even really consider it to be abuse - it's just normal for her, which is truly heartbreaking.

   If you can get past the troubling sexual nature of this book (which is very difficult), hopefully you will see how well-written it is. Fragoso balances unsettling imagery with beautiful prose. And by the end of this book, she has done something amazing - allowed the reader to sympathize with Peter. Most stories of abuse are clearly defined in black and white terms (good, bad, protagonist, antagonist), but Fragoso manages to capture the gray areas, where right and wrong somehow become less distinct.

   This book is not easy to read because of the intense imagery (I really had to put it down a few times to catch my breath), but Margaux Fragoso's bravery and talent in writing this memoir is truly remarkable.