An unnamed eighteen-year-old Irish girl arrives in London to study drama and falls in love with an actor twenty years her senior, professionally successful but physically and psychologically scarred by an abusive childhood and subsequent addictions. He has turned his life around but has not seen his estranged daughter for many years. The Irish girl’s father, we learn, died from pancreatic cancer when she was eight. A daughterless father meets a fatherless daughter – this is nothing new, but with Eimear McBride it’s not the tale that counts but the telling.
In her radically experimental debut novel, A Girl Is a Half-formed Thing (2013), McBride created and perfected a way of capturing the form of thought at the point before it emerges as articulate speech. The reader, once attuned to the method, experienced directly whatever happened to the main