Saturday, August 26, 2023

the last book I ever read (Cal: A Novel by Bernard MacLeverty, excerpt two)

from Cal: A Novel by Bernard MacLeverty:

She went to mass and communion every morning and each night she made them say the family rosary before the table was cleared. She had a missal which bulged with memoriam cards, novenas and special prayers, and if people borrowed it they inevitably scattered the lot over the church floor. The little coloured strings for marking the place were worn past the point where they should have hung out at the bottom of the page.

He wondered if the reason he loved her so much was because she had died before he had reached adolescence. He could not remember ever fighting with her or being beaten by her. From the age of fourteen onwards he had been constantly at war with his father. Everything from the way he chewed his food to the number of cigarettes he smoked was the subject for a shouting match. And yet there were areas where Shamie was at a loss for words. Not long after Gracie’s death Shamie had found a purple bruise mark in the crook of Cal’s elbow. At night he gave himself love-bites, sucking until he tasted the coppery blood coming through the skin. His father asked him what had happened. Not knowing why, Cal said that he had hurt his arm in school – in a fight with another boy. His father just said that he sometimes wished Cal’s mother were alive still. She would have told him about it. At the mention of his mother Cal cried and his father left the room.

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