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Cry Wolf by Aileen La Tourette
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Cry Wolf (edition 1986)

by Aileen La Tourette

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232459,532 (2.5)12
Member:aluvalibri
Title:Cry Wolf
Authors:Aileen La Tourette
Info:Virago Press Ltd (1986), Paperback, 193 pages
Collections:Your library
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Tags:fiction, women, 20th century, Britain, Virago

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Cry Wolf by Aileen La Tourette

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Cry Wolf opens with Curie, a M-other and guru to a group of human-like creatures, seemingly innocent and in need of protection from the horrors of the world as it was before. During a class one of Curie's pupils suddenly displays a previously hidden intelligence and begins to ask questions about Curie's life. Curie resists giving this knowledge but finally relents and tells her story.

She begins with the four women she lived with. Together they decide, taking inspiration from Scheherazade, to stop the coming day of impending world destruction by working their way into nuclear bunkers and distracting the men there by telling them tales that will stop them pressing the red button. The next section of the book is each of their tales, each of which ends as lights start to flash and sirens start to sound.

Curie then goes back further in time to tell the story of her two mothers, Bee who is shot on the fences of Greenham Common and Lily Ghost who becomes her surrogate mother.

Finally we return to Curie and her friends who are seized by the military and shipped off to a desolate location and left to perish. There they meet the creatures who become Curie's disciples.

Hopefully with that synopsis I've saved you from having to read the book yourself. While there are interesting themes of story-telling, truth and deception I struggled with most of this book. The sudden relevation of her pupil's intelligence and Curie's decision to tell her story just seemed too contrived.

Also, as urania1 has noted in another Club Read thread, Curie's attitude to her charges in the first part of the book is really patronising, not what you'd expect from a feminist work. And I found the writing style too laboured. The blurb on the back describes La Tourette as having remarkable story-telling gifts, but for me it felt like she was trying too hard to create a sense of mystery and otherworldliness, particularly in the first part when a ritual festival/shag-fest takes place that I just couldn't engage with at all.

I've considered whether this like my usual reaction to anything mystical or magical realist, but I don't think so. I enjoyed couple of the women's stories (particularly the one where a girl has a large red tail), I just like any other parts!

I think my lasting impression is of a writer who was trying to write a book that would be remembered as a feminist classics of the 1980s. I'm sure I'm doing La Tourette a dis-service with that statement, but there you are. ( )
  charbutton | Aug 25, 2010 |
Set in a post-apocalyptic world in a small utopian civilization which is deliberately not given a history, this tale is less of a straightforward story of what happened and why than a story about truth, lies and storytelling. I felt my expectations were set up for a straightforward tale of destruction and survival and the creation of a new, better civilization and I was a little disappointed that didn't turn out quite that way (although you do get the basics); however, it did provide me a few thoughtful moments around the ideas of religion, history, truth, lies, the power of story and more so all is not lost. It brings to mind Atwood's Oryx and Crake. Curie and her four companions are much in the same position as Snowman was with the Crakers - What do you tell them and how much? A worthy read, though I wasn't wowed by it. ( )
  avaland | Sep 13, 2008 |
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Storytelling is himane and achieves humane effects, memory, sympathy, understanding -- even when the story is in part a lament for the destruction of one's fathers' home, for the loss of memory, the breakdown of sympathy, the lack of understanding.
~ Christa Wolf
The moment a feeling enters the body/ Is political.
~ Adrienne Rich
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Curie walked into the classroom.
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