Monday, September 10, 2012

Review: The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot

Dreams and ideals are as important as what happens to us. In fact, they are more important. What happens to us, batters us against some breakwater over and over, until we bleed. We go Whew, I hope that never happens again. Once was enough. But dreams are the eternal companions of our soul, the wise guides we trust with an instinct that goes beyond this world, spanning across the multi-dimensional truth of who and what we really are.

In The Tale of One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot, Helen is cast adrift by the toxically dysfunctional aspects of her family, long before she runs away to become the girl behind the 'Homeless, please help' placard. The only thread that guides her through a maze of hidden scars and secret pain, is a fantasy and a dream. In the struggle against incest and child abuse, the monsters stay invisible. Therefore, the soul's champion too must come from a source that hides beyond the physical world. And so Helen follows the signs and prompts from the imaginary world like a trail of bread crumbs, each one providing a moment's nourishment to keep her going until she reaches the home of her soul.

This is probably why the world needs stories like this and many more. Stories cast out a lifeline when no one in the 'real world' wants to get their feet wet to save someone who is drowning. The world says No, that child is fine (I've once read somewhere that No, I'm fine is probably the most common lie in the world) or She is just acting out. So often an unspoken truce is formed with the abuser, where the victim actually feels bad about each honest thought he or she has. As if somehow embarrassing the abuser would be a worse crime than what was already done to him or her.

To quote from the afterword of the book: The utter selfishness of the abuser is the common denominator - not class, race or creed. The psychological aftereffects - despair and withdrawal; low self-esteem; feeling worthless, dirty and bad - can last for life. The children take the badness onto themselves.

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