Read of the Week

Not to Mention

Not To Mention

Vivian de Klerk

Pan Macmillan

Review: Karen Watkins

Twenty-one-year-old Katy Ferreira is living in a body that’s out of control.

She is morbidly obese at 360kg and has been bedridden for almost two years.

This debut novel by linguistics professor emeritus Vivian de Klerk is cleverly written.

The story is set in the 1980s, before cellphones. Apart from Katy’s mother, who does not have a voice in the story, other characters include nurses, doctors and a librarian.

As an only child, Katy’s mother compensated by giving her unhappy daughter sweet treats of cakes with jam and cream. She also left coins in a jar, which Katy would spend on sweet treats from the local shop.

Now her mom leaves food and drinks for Katy every morning before she leaves for work – litres of fizzy drinks, cakes, doughnuts, biscuits and pies.

Katy fills her days doing crossword puzzles. In fact, she compiles one in a notebook left over from when she dropped out of school.

The crossword is interwoven throughout the story and is included, with clues and solutions, at the back of the book, but you can ignore it.

The book cover has a crossword using letters on sugar cubes.

The story also touches on topics such as menstruation and sex.

Katy reads a lot, particularly The Herald newspaper, all of it, including the adverts.

The family radio has broken so she hears sounds from outside, including the seasons changing, birdsong, a woman singing or music.

Finding the story repetitive in the extreme, I started skim reading.

It reads like a diary to Katy’s mother, and she includes splintered memories of her dog, her dad and feelings of being the “fat girl’ at school.

A lot of research must have gone into writing the story with medical details on the deterioration of Katy’s body and mind.