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A chilling childhood

Growing up in New England, in a town simmering with menace, Ruthie suffers the agonies of parental neglect

29 April 2023

9:00 AM

29 April 2023

9:00 AM

Very Cold People Sarah Manguso

Picador, pp.208, 14.99

‘My parents were liars,’ the narrator Ruthie says at the beginning of Sarah Manguso’s unsettling debut novel. Looking back on her abusive childhood in a New England town near Boston in the 1980s, she recounts how her father wore a fake Rolex that didn’t work, and her narcissistic mother was obsessed with social climbing, pinning the wedding announcements of local Mayflower descendants on the fridge as if she knew them.

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