In the small town of Tiptoe Floorboard, the Doe clan, a close-knit family of criminals and victims, has the run of the place. Yet there are signs that patriarch John Doe’s reign may be coming to an end. When Jetty Doe breaks into a gun store and makes off with a Kalashnikov, the stage is set for a violent confrontation. The second novel by the author of Milkman, now published for the first time in the United States.
... an astonishing range of breakdowns ... a more meandering, rollicking novel, full of nutty lines that are, bewilderingly, horrible and hilarious at once ... There’s no predicting where the narrator may veer next, no warning of when Burns might pivot from the consolation of humor to a tender observation on despair ... The genius of Burns’s prose is how boldly it goes for broke, in sync with the breakdowns occurring within the minds of her characters. Her cascading descriptions of internal turmoil spiral the way the mind does, and she often adds some odd shift in pronouns for extra flourish ... Amid all the absurdity and wicked humor of this novel, Burns has created a complex character study in how violence, paranoia and sexual assault can become normalized in a family, and often remain so. It is a rare novelist who can approach the unspeakable with restorative humor, but Burns has a gift for dismantling and reconstructing things on her own quixotic terms, as she suggests with the perfectly chosen title for this book.
Anna Burns is either nuts - or quite something! In Little Constructions, her second novel, she tackles murder, rape, incest, child molestation, Kalashnikovs and something very like the IRA with indefatigable irony. She gets across her disgust for senseless, needless violence of the Bush/Blair/Northern Irish or merely familial kind, while being pretty damn funny about it at the same time ... Burns...dares to say anything. The writing is energetic, convoluted and courageous. It has a gutsy nervousness that matches the subject matter, as if there is no way to write about violence and violation other than with comedy, digression, wordplay and other peculiarities. Her logic, verging on the insane, pinpoints the complexity of being human ... Every word matters and the oddities are a joy.
... an exceptionally bold, violent and blackly comic tale, wilfully designed to raze your preconceptions of a young female novelist to the root ... The plot, for what it’s worth, concerns a Doe woman, armed with a Kalashnikov, taking revenge for the stealing of a lover ... What it’s really about is 1970s Northern Ireland and, if you give yourself up to Burns’s delirious imagination, you’ll find much salient wisdom, as well as dark humour, in her take on the Struggles.