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Tiger, Tiger: A Memoirby Margaux Fragoso
"The trouble with reviewing a certain sort of memoir is that one feels awfully callous commenting on matters of form and style when the content is so positively devastating. The content of Margaux Fragoso's memoir Tiger, Tiger is excruciating; the book details, often quite graphically, Fragoso's fifteen-year sexual relationship with a pedophile named Peter Curran, and encompasses her mother's mental illness, her father's alcoholism, and her own bouts of despair and suicide attempts." Yevgeniya Traps, Rain Taxi (Read the entire Rain Taxi review)
Synopses & Reviews
One summer day, Margaux Fragoso swam up to Peter Curran at a public swimming pool and asked him to play. She was seven; he was fifty-one. When Curran invited her and her mom to see his house, the little girl found a child's dream world, full of odd pets and books and music and magical toys. Margaux's mother was devoted, but beset by mental illness and frightened of her abusive husband; she was only too ready to take advantage of an escape for the daughter she felt incapable of taking care of on her own. Soon Margaux was spending all her time with Peter.
In time, he insidiously took on the role of Margaux's playmate, father, lover, and captor. Charming and repulsive, warm and violent, loving and manipulative, Peter burrowed into every aspect of Margaux's life and transformed her from a girl fizzing with imagination and affection into a deadened, young-old woman on the brink of suicide. But when she was twenty-two, it was Peter — ill, and terrified at the thought of losing her — who killed himself, at the age of sixty-six.
With lyricism and mesmerizing clarity, Margaux Fragoso has unflinchingly explored the darkest episodes of her life, helping us see how pedophiles work hidden away in the open to steal childhood. In writing Tiger, Tiger, she has healed herself of a wound that was fourteen years in the making. This extraordinary memoir is an unprecedented glimpse into the heart and mind of a monster; but more than this, it illustrates the power of memory and truth-telling to mend.
"In this gut-wrenching memoir of sexual abuse, Fragoso, who has written short stories for various literary magazines, explores with unflinching honesty the ways in which pedophiles can manipulate their way into the lives of children. Fragoso met Peter Curran at a public pool in Union City, N.J., in 1985 when she was seven and he was 51. He seemed harmless, and invited Fragoso and her mother back to his house. This marked the beginning of Curran and Fragoso's 15-year relationship, which ended when Curran committed suicide at age 66. Fragoso's home life was strained — her mother was in and out of psychiatric wards and her father was an alcoholic — and Curran's home, with its myriad pets and lack of rules, became her refuge. The sexual abuse began slowly, progressing to oral sex in Curran's basement, an act that he requested as a "birthday present." Fragoso's sense of alienation — Curran controlled her world for more than half her life — is palpable in her telling. Using her own diaries and the myriad letters, diaries, and photographs Curran left behind, Fragoso eloquently depicts psychological and sexual abuse in disturbing detail." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
"Tiger, Tiger will start a thousand conversations. Margaux Fragoso achieves the unthinkable with empathic clarity: she humanizes a pedophile. In doing so, she makes his crime unimaginably more frightening. Her portrayal of their relationship is shocking, revelatory, and fearless. As the story of a victim, it is gripping; as a work of literature, it's a triumph." Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones
"Tiger, Tiger is stunning, in all the possible manifestations of that word." Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City
"Disquieting....Culled from the four diaries she kept during the ordeal, Fragoso writes with searing honesty about her serpentine entanglement and of Curran's calculated, menacing exploitation of her. Intensive psychotherapy and new motherhood provide a hopeful coda to her unspeakable experience. A gripping, tragic and unforgettable chronicle of lost innocence and abuse." Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
"You may think you've already decided about a child's ordeal with a sexual predator, but under Margaux Fragoso's command you will consider the richest depths of experience, terrible, bright, and beautiful. Fragoso writes with unguarded grace and provides a voice — real and haunting — for those children, everywhere among us, who are deprived of theirs." Susanna Sonnenberg, author of Her Last Death
“Tiger, Tiger will start a thousand conversations. Margaux Fragoso achieves the unthinkable with empathic clarity: she humanizes a pedophile. In doing so, she makes his crime unimaginably more frightening. Her portrayal of their relationship is shocking, revelatory, and fearless. As the story of a victim, it is gripping; as a work of literature, it’s a triumph.” Alice Sebold, author of The Lovely Bones
“You may think you’ve already decided about a child’s ordeal with a sexual predator, but under Margaux Fragoso’s command you will consider the richest depths of experience, terrible, bright, and beautiful. Fragoso writes with unguarded grace and provides a voice — real and haunting — for those children, everywhere among us, who are deprived of theirs.” Susanna Sonnenberg, author of Her Last Death
“Tiger, Tiger is stunning, in all the possible manifestations of that word.” Nick Flynn, author of Another Bullshit Night in Suck City
“Once in a generation, an essential book — a necessary book — comes along and challenges our bedrock assumptions about life. Margaux Fragoso’s Tiger, Tiger is that book. Family life, the corruption of innocence, sexual abuse, pedophilia — all are unflinchingly yet exquisitely rendered as Fragoso experienced them. You will never view childhood the same way after reading Fragoso’s monumentally important book.” Louise DeSalvo, author of Writing as a Way of Healing
About the Author
Margaux Fragoso recently completed a PhD in English and creative writing at Binghamton University. Her short stories and poems have appeared in The Literary Review and Barrow Street, among other literary journals.
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