Armadillos by P.K. Lynch in The Bottle Imp

The Bottle Imp is an Association of Scottish Literary Studies e-zine. The magazine is published twice yearly and promotes Scotland’s vibrant literary culture. Contributors include Kevin MacNeil and Zoe Strachan. Read my review of P.K. Lynch’s Armadillos in Issue 20.

Fifteen-year-old Aggie lives on a sheep farm in the middle of Texas cattle country. The only town is four miles away: ‘One little main street with a few stores selling random stuff, one dusty antique place that I never in all my life saw open.’ But Armadillos is not a portrait of small-town life. Brought up by her elder sister and home-schooled, since Aggie reached puberty she has had a new role in the family. The book opens with a recounting of how her sister Jojo explained it:

‘She said, basically, not all people are people. That is to say, not all people are human. They walk human, they talk human, and in every conceivable way to the untrained eye they are human, but that don’t mean shit.’

The idea of being somehow inferior is encapsulated in the term ‘subs’, which is how Jojo describes the girls’ family. The word is a powerful dramatic hook, and the imparting of adult truths makes for a disturbing opening. Having given this little proem, Jojo leaves the bedroom and returns a moment later with ‘company’. We see the three men of the family standing over the girl on the bed. The darkness in P. K. Lynch’s debut comes mostly from suggestion, with few scenes of explicit sexual violence.