Friday, September 5, 2008

Feather Man-Rhyll McMaster

Feather Man
Rhyll McMaster
Marion Boyers, 2008, $15.95
ISBN: 9780714531489

In 1958 Brisbane, while her father abuses her mother, their preadolescent daughter Sooky is mostly ignored by them except when they encourage her to hang elsewhere. She spends a lot time with her almost thirtyish neighbor Lionel who constantly orders her to play with his hardened Willie.

Several years later her father leaves taking the music with him, but leaving behind the Tennessee Waltz and a distraught mother. In London Sooky has moved on to a new stud with football player Peter using an engagement ring to order her to play with his English Willie. Almost at the same time Lionel’s son Redmond manipulates Sooky the artist to do what he wants from her; she knows no other way to live.

Finally tired of being used, abused, and discarded, Sooky visits a gallery that she thinks Redmond once took her to. There she meets an older patron of the arts Paul. He mentors her but he cleverly maneuvers her into doing what he believes is good for her.

In this deep somewhat depressing character study, the child makes the adult as Sooky learns as a youngster from observing the relationship between her parents and from the way Lionel sexually assaults her that men dominate women. Each of the four men (five counting her father) expects to control her though they use subtly different approaches to achieve their objective of a submissive Sooky. Part of that early life lesson is for her to never be happy for herself as she can only be happy by pleasing the dominant male in her life. Rhyll McMaster paints a portrait of a female who has spent her life under the cruel thumbs of abusers.

Harriet Klausner

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