Emptying my handbag


The Tiny Wife Andrew Kaufman

Andrew Kaufman’s novella is jam packed with metaphors and vibrant imagery. It’s hard to forget the image of the mother made of sugar cane or the son dealing with the multiple mothers or the lion about to pounce. And don’t get me started on the baby pooing money!

Its a strange eccentric story probably best described as ‘quirky’. It’s driven by the simply wonderful concept of having to hand over your most meaningful possession.  I can’t say I understood it all, I’m still trying to figure out the snowman and the freezer, but I loved it!

In a way the tiny wife is perhaps the least visual and most obvious of the metaphors.  I guess that stands to reason as it’s her story, but interestingly not told by her. It’s her husband that chronicles her shrinking.  What responsibility did he have in her diminishing life?  He didn’t seem to accept responsibility, and I wondered how reliable a narrator he was.

There were two themes that I wanted to understand better, but perhaps quite deliberately the author kept just out of my gasp.  The role of mothers – the tiny wife was only one of the mothers impacted. Whilst I didn’t get the snowman in the freezer I figured his mother played a key role.  Did she drive her daughter-in-law to suicide?

The role of numbers was interesting, why 51% of the soul?  There was clearly significance in the numeric patterns in the tiny wife’s shrinking and the multiplying mothers.  And a calculator? Seriously?  I’ve yet to meet anyone who would have a calculator as their most meaningful item, I think that alone said the tiny wife had a few issues.

And that brings me to the most challenging aspect of the book – what would I choose to hand over? I’m not sure I can answer the question.  Assuming I can figure it out what’s the chances I would have it on me if I was out at the bank?! It’s had me searching my handbag quite a few mornings and asking the significance of the crap that I usually carry.  And if it’s crap why do I carry it day in day out?

So go read this fab story and ask yourself the question – what would you handover and what does it say about you?