Book Review

The Carnivorous Plant by Andrea Mayo

an excellent (maybe?) novel about an abusive relationship

The Carnivorous Plant was originally published in 2021 in Catalan, author previously credited as Flavia Company. 2022 translation to English by Laura McGloughlin

cw: abuse, coercive control, mental illness

It’s rare for me to read a novel or watch a film or read poetry or otherwise engage with narratives that explore abusive relationships (“toxic” relationships? “mutually destructive” relationships?) because, as Andrea Mayo (who I believe is a fictional avatar and/or alter ego of a writer elsewhere known as Flavia Company and Haru) writes here in The Carnivorous Plant, denial is the classic response, the classic defence, the inevitable reaction to confrontation with the reality of this kind of thing.

Everyone thinks it can’t happen to them, even when it does, even when it has. We minimise, we deflect, we tell ourselves that it’s not so bad, the way we had it, and we try try try to get on with our lives but always there is this memory, this sense, that we have only temporarily escaped being trapped in a place we never wanted to be.

When your life is reduced – deliberately, intentionally, directly – to a single person and a single thing, it can remain unsettling to be out of it.

Life ever afterwards feels like an extended thirty minutes hiding in a cupboard or under a bed, but it goes on forever and forever and forever and if you never actually build a proper life for yourself afterwards the pathetic empty husk you shelter in never feels safe and secure because it isn’t. When it isn’t.

I don’t know if I’m well placed to analyse the literary merit of this book, if I’m able to be detached enough to comment on its depiction of an evermore destructive domestic environment, of evermore incomprehensible and incompatible demands, of cruelty and meanness and-

Reading this is a lot, if you’ve had any experience of this kind of relationship, with this kind of person. Cruel and mean and aggressive towards everyone around them. Unapologetic. Unkind. Controlling and only interested in people they can control. People like you. People who deserve it.

It’s been many years for me, and I’m still not free, not in any way that matters and not in any way that counts.

Andrea Mayo does get out of her abusive relationship by herself. I didn’t. I was so destroyed that eventually I was discarded. I totally fucking lost and left with no self respect and no self esteem and I’ve never been able to build it back.

It’s fucking hard. It’s fucking hard.

For anyone who’s been through this, Flavia Company/Andrea Mayo evokes it/depicts it perfectly.

It’s fucking horrible. And – for many of us – it never ends.

Reminds me that I need to go back into therapy. Reminds me that I am right to not feel safe potentially proximate. Reminds me reminds me reminds me.

I thought it was an excellent novel. But it wrote something I’d already lived. So maybe it wouldn’t be the same for someone who hadn’t. Maybe they’d read it and laugh at the idiot whose self gets all destroyed. Maybe they’d be mean too. Because that’s what I deserve.

If you genuinely want more of an insight into my own life than can be found in the books I’ve written myself, this is very informative and – for me – dangerously similar/familiar/recognisable.

Reminds me how bad things can get when unable or unwilling to change the self and ones situation. Reminds me that I’m a failure. Reminds me that I am never free, that I never don’t feel the over the shoulder, the out of sight threat.

Fear fear fear fear. Trapped like a rat like a rat like a rat

One cannot fix a person who believes they are the only thing in the world that doesn’t need fixing. And please don’t be mean to me in the comments. I’ve already had enough.

Order direct from 3TimesRebel is 10 years old! Celebrate by sharing this post – or others – with friends (if you have any), family (if you have any), lovers (which I presume you have because this website isn’t for children), or by donating to the site via the below link so that I can maybe take a day off work some time and enjoy being alive for a few hours.

1 comment on “The Carnivorous Plant by Andrea Mayo

  1. Pingback: Space Crone by Ursula K Le Guin – Triumph Of The Now

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