The Common Rat
McPhee Gribble, $14.95 pb
There are some pretty ambiguous rats in this collection and most of them are male but ultimately, it’s the writer’s own unease that cumulatively gnaws away at happiness and achievement.
Take the scene in ‘Soldier of the Round Valleys’ at Grandma’s eighty-something birthday where she ‘cuts the cake and makes a wish’:
But as she cuts the cake, leaning over the table and pressing hard with the knife, some blood begins to trickle from Grandma’s nose. The blood splashes onto the icing. Grandma becomes bewildered and scarcely knows what is happening. The spare room is ready. My father calls the doctor.’