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EXTRACT: A Good Father by Catherine Talbot

By March 11, 2021March 14th, 2021No Comments

Our extract this week is from A Good Father by Catherine Talbot, a compelling novel about a familicide in south county Dublin…


I drive on a couple of hundred yards and I pull into the petrol station on our left. It’s hot in the car despite the rain and Jenny won’t talk to me and I don’t understand why. I tell the kids that I’ll get a couple of packets of Tayto when I’m paying for the fuel. They won’t hear of it. They have to come into the shop with me to choose the crisps for themselves. This is so irritating that I want to smash their faces.

In the petrol station, I head straight to the Banklink to withdraw some funds. I like to deal in cash, I am better able to keep track of my spending. My mother was terrible with money and in the end it killed her because she could never relax. Maeve is pretty in an ankle-length floral dress that she picked out herself in Penneys. Mikey and Joey are in their football gear, as they always are. I don’t mind this, it saves us doing unnecessary laundry. I notice the way Maeve appears to others. Soft. I don’t know why I was so angry with her for coming into the station. She is a mother hen to her younger brothers as she lists the pros and cons of the different variety of crisps to them. I often believe that those two have absolutely no idea how lucky they are to have Maeve as a sister because it seems to me that she does truly love them. I grab a coffee for Jenny and we head back to the car.

Jenny has a face on her and she takes a sip of coffee too quickly from the plastic lid and she curses because the coffee burns her tongue. She flicks through the weekend supplement of the Irish Times.

That’s a rag, I tell her. I don’t know why I have to denounce her for reading this part of the paper. It’s just that it annoys me pretty intensely that she never bothers with any decent sections of the newspaper. She keeps well away from anything at

all that might pertain to the domestic political sphere or world news. She ignores anything to do with the Middle East because I think she finds the whole thing too confusing. I admit that it isn’t easy working out exactly what is going on over there but at least I make the effort.

It seems casual the way she drops Jerome’s name there, in the forecourt as she blows on her hot coffee. Jerome, it seems, has asked her out to have a drink with him. An image of Jenny and Jerome cosy as fuck in some bar causes me to start the car at an entirely unsuitable speed. The kids talk about whiplash and I tell them in an angry voice that whiplash only applies in a situation when you stop very suddenly, not take off. I don’t know if I’m correct with this theory as I’ve never really done any research on the topic but I’m in no mood now for doubting myself.

I begin to drive at speed and Jenny asks me to slow down as I’m frightening the children. I know that she is right but something in my physical makeup pre- vents me from being sensible. It’s almost as if the car is driving itself and the control that I normally have has vanished.

‘A Good Father’ by Catherine
Talbot is published by
Sandycove and is available
online now.