A Real Doll is short story by A.M. Homes, about a boy having a love-affair with his sibling's Barbie doll. It's a story that David Foster Wallace described as, "very twisted... sick... and riveting... relevant to people who are 18 and five or six years ago were either playing with dolls or being sadistic to their sisters", while, at the same time, serving to be a genuine 'nut cracker'- something appropriate for those rural, uneducated, literature-abhorring adolescent types. So guaranteed to captivate the imagination of any tough guy mentality that can read it from beginning to end and drop them so hard from their comfortable pillar of spurious security that they just may get to a enjoy a brief streak of mind-boggling melancholy. It's a story that will make any God-fearing parent buy a lock for the medicine cabinet. A Real Doll is disturbing, but only as disturbing as our reflection in the mirror can be.

The reader is reluctantly dragged from one drug-driven sexual episode to the next, fueled by the perturbing revelations of peering into a modern day reality. Barbie, the playful, cheery victim of some sort of borderline personality disorder, is a personification of a mutilating hatred of self. We come to find out, the boy, a Valium-addicted pervert, through a brief, staged moment of kindred empathy, that he is approaching a crossroads in life as he pours hydrogen peroxide on his sister's wounded knees. Why didn't he stop his sister from falling? Here he is cast into a moment where two paths converge, where he's faced with an emasculating choice: either stop these fantasies or let them shape you into a something unacceptable by the standards set by society.

Read it, absorb it, and move on. Just pass it on to some other unsuspecting sap.


http://www.barcelonareview.com/eng/eng44.htm / A Real Doll, by A.M. Homes

http://www.salon.com/09/features/wallace1.html / DFW interview in Salon

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