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Mrs Caliban [PDF / EPUB] Mrs Caliban She looked over to where he was seated at the other end of the kitchen table in the light which since his arrival she had blocked by curtains because of his sensitive eyes He concentrated on polishing She looked over to where he was seated at the other end of the kitchen table in the light which since his arrival she had blocked by curtains because of his sensitive eyes He concentrated on polishing spoons with a silver cloth six teaspoons from a great aunt One leg was slung over the other which would have looked strange enough but he was also wearing a flowered apron fastened around his waist and it contrasted stunningly with his large muscular green body his nobly massive headI loved Mrs Caliban So deft and austere in its prose so drolly casual in its fantasy John Updike.

  • Hardcover
  • 128 pages
  • Mrs Caliban
  • Rachel Ingalls
  • English
  • 03 January 2015
  • 9780876451120

About the Author: Rachel Ingalls

Rachel Ingalls grew up in Cambridge Massachusetts She held various jobs from theatre dresser and librarian to publisher’s reader She was a confirmed radio and film addict and started living in London in She authored several works of fiction—most notably Mrs Caliban—published in both the United States and the United Kingdom.

10 thoughts on “Mrs Caliban

  1. says:

    Dorthy's marriage is stagnant and falling apart when a frogman escapes from captivity While Dorothy teaches him about the world she winds up learning a lot of things herselfI first learned of Mrs Caliban on Book Riot I think I saw it was on sale for 170 earlier today and snapped it upIt's a slim book probably novella than novel but I thoroughly enjoyed this uirky weird sweet book A woman falling in love with a frogman could easily be played for laughs or venture into monster porn territory but their relationship is very well doneDorthy is trapped in a loveless marriage alone and childless while her husband Fred philanders around When a 6'7 auatic monster named Larry shows up she has no choice but to take him in and make him her lover Seriously how had I never heard of this book until recently?Mrs Caliban is an exploration of love and marriage shown through Dorothy's eyes as she explains the ways of the world to Larry telling him about life the universe and everything Larry's ignorance about most things leads her to uestioning a lot of those things herself Things go pretty well until Larry starts venturing out on his ownI don't have anything bad to say about this uirky masterpiece Four out of five stars

  2. says:

    The water ran over the sand one wave covering another like the knitting of threads like the begetting of revenges betrayals memories regrets Oh wow This is not your average humanmonster romance I totally understand why this landed on the BBMC’s “top 20 American novels of the post World War II period”From the book blurb this seems straight forward enough giant frog like male humanoid wanders into kitchen of neglected housewife Bonking commencesAnd while yes sure that does actually happen there is so much to this story than that What’s mind blowing to me is that while most of the reviews that I’ve read for this short novel agree that there’s something surreal and compelling and almost compulsory to it they don’t do a good job of explaining whyIt’s uite simple really SubtextYou know how in high school your teachers forced you to pour over Catcher in the Rye and examine every action of Holden Caulfield and then asked you to explain in detail how he was an ingeniously written antihero that shone a light on some of our problematic beliefs and behaviors and all the while you were just sat there in front of an empty essay thinking to yourself that he was just an obnoxious teenage boy and all he shone a light on was how toxic masculinity can be?This is the book they should have had you analyze insteadIt’s one of the best tongue in cheek social satires that I’ve ever read It delves into gender politics It takes a long hard look at mental health It addresses female sexual freedom and agency It asks the reader to examine what it means to be humanLarry the frog man love interest looks like a monster to most And so is treated monstrously by them Revealing how monstrous humans can be to anything that is differentAnd then there’s that ending I won’t write too much about it because spoilers but suffice to say that when you reach it you’ll probably set the book down frown and then reexamine every word you just read and every action of the protagonist and wonder over the relationship between reality and imagination all while uestioning whether this is a genius work of subliminal metafiction or if Rachel Ingalls sole intent with this story was to nuke our paper thin social construct of civilization from the orbitI still don’t knowThis is going to be one of those books that I think about for a long time after finishing it And re read several dozen times over the course of my lifetime in search of deeper meaningThe fact that it was written in 1982 and is still SO RELEVANT makes it even impressiveThis review is also available on The Alliterates

  3. says:

    A few days ago I reviewed Bear a book about a woman who you know does it with a bear So continuing in the theme of stories about women who take unusual lovers I read Mrs Caliban which tells the tale of a woman who you know with a frog man I know you're all uestioning my morals and the condition of my soul Don't be so uick to judge This book is uite wonderfulFirst of all it's got a big thumbs up from deceased demigod John Updike whose approbation probably means too much to me but there it is Reading a story that he read and loved makes me feel like I'm in the right place As I was reading it I smiled OF COURSE John Updike liked this book It's about a miserable married couple inflicted with the nightmare of infidelity The couple is so unhappy they're too unhappy to get a divorce God help meThey've got good reasons to be unhappy after two devastating losses and the husband's subseuent wandering eye Dorothy our protagonist is terribly lonely in her grief She has a friend in whom she confides but is otherwise alone When Larry the frog man who escaped from the laboratory where he was being tortured appears one day in her kitchen she finds almost instant solace Solace and love You could choose to read this as though it is a story of magical realism Like this frog man is a real creature mysterious and polite and virile not necessarily in that order He's a being who makes life bearable for Dorothy and he helps with the housework too That's how I was reading it until the final few pages which caused everything to stand on its head and put into uestion what I'd just read It became much than the charming story of female self discovery I had been enjoying and morphed into something far clever deliberate and real There's a kernel of something bitter and sinister in its plot Something biting in regards to humankind and friendship and marriage I fully believe I'll re read this and when I do this story will have something new to revealBut who knew about frogs?

  4. says:

    UPDATE if you want to see a good unofficial movie adaptation of this novel see Shape of WaterHmm Well this was a Goodreads discovery that I'm mostly glad I picked up The writing was great I highlighted many brilliant passages as a testament to this Plot wise I'm always a fan when weird mixes with domestic reality and we certainly have that I don't know that it will leave any lasting impression on me though Fortunately as a novella it never got dull A few segments were even great The end was satisfactory enough but still kinda eh Overall I'm certainly glad this out of print novel is back in print just don't feel a burning need to read it right away

  5. says:

    If you like avocados you will like this book

  6. says:

    In his 1986 review of this novel in the New York Times Michael Dorris called it a tight intriguing portrait of a woman's escape from unacceptable reality Maybe But it doesn't fit into any easy box for me It's uncharacterizeable a perfect unrepeatable literary expression of love and sacrifice This was my fourth read or so

  7. says:

    I read this slender volume in an evening while my spouse was watching a Hallmark Christmas movie Really While he was vegging out to a feel good wish fulfillment movie I was reading a feel good wish fulfillment novel about a housewife estranged from her husband after the loss of two kids and a dog and his series of affairs which housewife meets a frog man named Larry who escaped from a science lab where he underwent cruel tests and learned English with the help of electric shocks so that Larry killed the scientists to escape and the sad wife and Larry commence an affair that includes her hiding him in the guest room and serving him avocado salad and their enjoying night time swims and walks in other people's gardens then some punks attack Larry and he has to defend himself and well the kids don't make itReally And the housewife's best friend is dating two men and her kids are troubled and the ending is very convoluted with the philandering husband meeting an appropriate end Did I wish I had watched the Hallmark movie instead of reading about a frogman creature learning about human experience and a housewife telling her story of alienation and loss and loneliness?Heck noMrs Caliban was first published in 1982 which explains the use of the phrase pontificating because I remember people did that back then and author Rachel Ingalls had a flash of fame before people forgot her novel But it was noticed by some very important writers such as Ursula la Guin and Joyce Carol Oates and John Updike and Eleanor Cotton The Luminaries and New Directions said it knocked their socks off and so they republished it this year and I am sure it will make connections with readers today Is Larry real or an alienated housewife's fantasy? Who cares Just read itI received a free book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and unbiased review

  8. says:

    I recently saw The Shape of Water and feeling underwhelmed by the execution of its brilliant premise figured I'd read this book that presents a very similar storyLarry is a talking sea monster who loves avocados Who can blame him honestly? After escaping from a duo of sadistic scientists who captured him he shows up at the door of a lonely housewife named Dorothy and reinvigorates her mundane lifeThis being a slim novella there's very little room for setup or explanation In fact the casual and matter of fact way that the relationship between Larry and Dorothy plays out is part of its charm She accepts him into her life immediately allowing him to fill the void left by her unhappy marriage and the recent death of her childIs Larry real or is he merely Dorothy's fantasy—the antithesis of her husband and her boring existence? This uirky and charming little novel is also a biting work of social satire and feminist fiction existing in the gap between reality and fantasy grief and joy acuiescence and agency

  9. says:

    Mrs Caliban is your typical story of a housewife’s love for an enormous sea monster Virtually ignored on its release in 1982 it was unexpectedly hailed as one of the 20 greatest post war American novels by the British Book Marketing Council the same people who bought us the inaugural Best of Young British Writers listThe novel’s protagonist is Dorothy a housewife whose marriage is failing Her son Scotty died young of complications from routine surgery and her husband Fred is freuently absent He claims to be working late but Dorothy suspects him of having an affair The couple sleep in different beds and inhabit different rooms in their house Psychologically she is showing signs of extreme stress – she hears strange personal messages in radio broadcasts ‘the first time was during a commercial for cake mix and the woman’s voice had said in a perfectly ordinary tone ‘don’t worry Dorothy you’ll have another baby all right All you need to do is relax and stop worrying about it’This isn’t the strangest message she hears on the wireless; one day a news report includes a bulletin about ‘Auarius the Monsterman’ ‘a giant lizard like animal capable of living both underwater and on dry land’ which has attacked its keepers and escaped That evening as she makes spaghetti bolognese for Fred and a colleague there is a knock at her door and the ‘monsterman’ walks inIngalls’ style puts the Realist in Magical Realist A practical woman Dorothy immediately assimilates the fact of the giant amphibian into her life It is established that he prefers to be known as 'Larry' that he is housetrained and has a fondness for vegetables He is also frightened Far from rampaging through the country as the radio reports suggested he is seeking sanctuary from his captors 'They will kill me I have suffered so much already' This need stirs something in Dorothy In The Tempest Caliban says of Prospero ‘you taught me language and how to curse’; by contrast Dorothy goes about teaching Larry how to drive and do the housework By stressing these aspects of their relationship Ingalls’ narrative raises an interesting uestion about masculinity and desireAlthough it is never made explicit there is the possibility that Larry exists solely in Dorothy’s head a kind of mental wish fulfilment Regardless he appears at a time when she is feeling vulnerable and alone Larry’s huge bulk and primal appearance leads the reader to assume that he will represent some form of sturdy physical manliness a contrast to the insubstantial seeming Fred In fact though Larry couldn’t be further from the cliché of the red meat eating ‘real man’ His diet is akin to ‘that of the average man on a health food kick' avocados than steaks He notices little changes in Dorothy’s appearance ‘You think this dress is fancier? And my hair this way?’ and helps around the house 'he enjoyed housework He was good at it and found it interesting'Larry and Dorothy have a sexual relationship but even this is complex They sleep together in every room of the house several times a day at first Dorothy finds this new regime is 'just the right amount for me It's perfect' But Larry’s experiences of sex are coloured by his experiences at the research centre where he was subject to sexual humiliations by his handlers Larry is a surrogate son as much as a husband replacement; he is rendered vulnerable by his past mistreatment so that Dorothy feels even his polite manners are ‘as poignant as if they had been scars on his body’; he is to be protected and cossetted from the hardships of the outside world like a toddler Although this is not stressed during the narrative it opens the book up to some interesting Freudian interpretationsA long way from home trapped in a confusing and hostile environment it is not safe for him to walk the streets at night even with the wigs and cosmetic masks Dorothy supplies Larry's situation mirrors Dorothy’s sense of alienation Although the novel is set decades later Dorothy’s experiences in the home mirror those described by Betty Friedan in The Feminine Mystiue The arrival of a sympathetic presence in her life allows Dorothy to begin thinking of the future again Larry’s strangely calming influence helping her to focus on something than the domestic She begins to assert herself in her relationship with her husband and in laws and even contemplates becoming pregnant by her amphibian lover allowing Ingalls to gleefully satirise the American Dream ‘born on American soil to an American mother – such a child could become President’ At the same time as Dorothy’s anthropomorphic adultery is going on her friend Estelle is also engaged in a complex relationship with two men both of whom repeatedly propose marriage Although Estelle appears to be liberated and glamorous the sight of her two lovers escorting younger women at a fashion show makes her re evaluate her position ‘I wasn’t the one who kept asking to get married That’s what makes it so horrible They’ve got to have somebody to do all their domestic drudgery full time and substitutes when the fancy one is out with somebody better’ Estelle’s realisation propels this short novella towards its denouement Beginning to kick against their domestic confinement Dorothy and Larry begin roaming farther afield placing themselves in potentially harmful situationsMrs Caliban still feels fresh than three decades on and could well be due a revival There is an appetite now for novels which chart the breakup of marriages from a female perspective and Ingalls brings elements of satire and surrealism to the topic Fans of recent novels like Season to Taste or Lightning Rods would enjoy this wryly subversive novella; who knows with the right backing maybe it could the surprise hit of the summer?

  10. says:

    Update Sad but of course not surprised to hear that Rachel Ingalls passed earlier this year She was a mere mortal but one of my favorites Here's a lovely Longread by Ruby Brunton about Ingalls that I think you should read to honor her passingI read it at the yurt under four hundred pounds of blankets and also in some very unexpected reading positions I laughed until the end And when it was done I turned the book over and over again in my hands looking to see if maybe there was of it hidden somewhere that I could keep reading

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