A review of Helen Marshall’s “Lessons in the Raising of Household Objects” in Gifts for the One Who Comes After (ChiZine Publications, 2014)
By Derek Newman-Stille
In “Lessons in the Raising of Household Objects” , Helen Marshall illustrates for us the horror of a child’s logic. Convinced that the twins her mother is carrying are probably dead, the narrator, Angela, is both terrified of them and views them as a threat. Her parents insist that she must learn to love the twins, so, in an attempt to love other things, she befriends two cans of soup, which she is convinced are capable of thought and speech. When she decides that the soup can named Simon has betrayed her, she takes pleasure in eating its innards, considering this an “object lesson” for the other soup can, Campbell.
Angela becomes convinced that the twins are stealing household items and creating a world within their mother’s belly because it keeps getting larger. In addition to considering the twins thieves, she also considers them to be violent because when she is near her mother’s belly, they kick her. When she is asked to listen to her mother’s belly, she is convinced that she hears the stolen items rolling around and bites her mother’s belly button. Angela’s perception of the world is shaped by ideas of violence and theft, considering birth a threat.
Marshall invites us into the horrifying world of a child’s logic… but she asks us an even more horrifying question at the end of her story… what if the child is correct in their logic. What if the dark things they dream up are really there.
You can discover more about the works of Helen Marshall at http://helen-marshall.com/ .
To discover more about Gifts for the One Who Comes After and other ChiZine books, visit their website at http://chizinepub.com/