Why do I feel the urge to type “Rachel S. Thompson”?
Broken Pieces breaks the moulds of confessional memoirs and is rightfully ahead in the polling for best non-fiction book of the year among the E-Festival of Words contenders.
Rachel Thompson is best known for her humourous observations of male-female relationships in her blog, Rachel in the OC, and her previous books, A Walk in the Snark and The Mancode Exposed. These books are short, snappy, definitely snarky. Funny, entertaining and usually dead-on right.
“Husband has t-shirts from before we met. He sees no problem with this fact. “They still fit!” — why should he throw them away? Sigh. #Mancode.
With Broken Pieces, Thompson takes a decidedly more serious turn — a walk on a darker side. The book includes verse and prose poems, as well as extended descriptions of her emotions at different crises or turning points of her life in almost stream-of-consciousness prose.
It begins with descriptions of learning about the suicide of a former lover which happened only hours after she met him following years of separation. With a few well-crafted sentences, Thompson exposes the conflicted emotions that result from the memories of a troubled, inconsistent, thrilling and terrifying relationship.
Broken Pieces is an apt title. The book is very much a collection of essays, odes and prose poems, as well as pieces that are impossible to categorize. There are long passages that describe the author’s up-and-down relationship with her unnamed lover: how his strength made her feel safe, and how that feeling contrasted with his barely-restrained violence and his tendency to tear down her self-esteem. She also contrasts the lover with her eventual (and still) husband.
|"Rachel in the OC" Thompson|
It’s not all dark: Thompson also writes eloquently about the joys and bemusements of her relationships with her sometimes bumbling husband and their kids. Then, like refractions through a broken window, she turns back to her childhood and the trauma and abuse she experienced.
The pieces are disjointed. But I was never in doubt about which period of her life she had just jumped to. I always knew which man she was writing about on any given page. The book is not an easy read; it’s sometimes disorienting, but it’s compelling writing that tells Rachel’s own story. Broken Pieces shows Thompson as a real person, someone much more sympathetic than she comes across in her earlier books.
You cannot stop reading Broken Pieces once you start.