Daily Recco, July 23: I Hold a Wolf by the Ears is deliciously unsettling

I Hold A Wolf By The Ears is acclaimed author Laura van den Berg’s latest collection of adult fairy tales laced with melancholy and spiked with dilemmas that will leave you unsettled.

 |  2-minute read |   23-07-2021
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Unsettling dilemmas, poignancy and the unexpected blow at the end— these are the underlying themes that bring together the short stories in Laura van den Berg’s I Hold A Wolf By The Ears in a garland. Each story in this collection explores women-centric relationships. And each exploration is strikingly unconventional, each in its own ways — another common theme to cohere the collection.

Each story describes a woman on the verge of trying to grasp what's left of life. They are grieving, separated, searching, vulnerable, and unhinged. Might sound a lot like the various "weird" people we meet every day in different walks of life. But van den Berg’s women live in a world that diverges from the middling world in subtle ways that emerge when we examine the stories deeply and intuitively.


The stories scare and hurt us in a delicious way. The hurt that can best be described when we look internally at the core of our flaws and sufferings — when we plummet into the darkest recess of our mind that makes each experience unique in its own right.

For instance, take the story Lizards. It opens with a woman’ mounting rage over sexual assault allegations against a prominent judge. And her rage pushes her husband to silence her with her nightly doses of homemade seltzer that is laced with a sedative that he buys from his neighbour. A neighbour who is misogynistic, but thinks of himself as “evolved”. You will never foresee where and how this narration will take you. Or the story Volcano House, of a woman who whispers ghost stories in the ears of her sister, who is rendered comatose by a bullet lodged in her cerebellum. 

As we said earlier, the stories will unsettle you. Yet, you will be tempted to plummet into the unexplored recesses of your mind as you try and draw a method to all the madness. By the time you are done with the last page, you will find yourself in an "ecosystem of weird and stirring places you’ll want to revisit, reconsider, maybe even take shelter in," to quote author Nathan Deuel's accurate summation of the book. 

Also read: Jhumpa Lahiri's Pulitzer-winning debut is light but powerful


Rajeshwari Ganesan Rajeshwari Ganesan @rajeshwaridotg

The author writes on wildlife, environment, gender issues, science, health, books and a host of other topics. A professional journalist and a passionate environmentalist. Former Assistant Editor, DailyO.

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