Cover image for The Tracey fragments
The Tracey fragments
Medved, Maureen.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Toronto : Anansi, 1998.
Physical Description:
151 pages ; 22 cm
General Note:
"A spider line book."
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Naked underneath a tattered shower curtain, fifteen-year-old Tracey sits at the back of a bus and tells us her story. It's winter; there's a blizzard outside; she's searching for her little brother, Sonny, who thinks he's a dog.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Another oddly timely book (see above) that comes on the heels of recent headlines of teen violence, Canadian author Medved's debut novel provides an eerie glimpse of a raging adolescent psyche. Fifteen-year-old Tracey Berkowitz has been riding on a bus through a blizzard for two days, searching for her younger brother and wearing only a shower curtain. From the back seat she tells her story in a layered narration that shifts from first- to third-person, when Tracey talks about herself as "It," a girl tormented by her classmates and neglected by her parents: "When It went anywhere, It went alone. When It crept against school walls, people held their breath.... Boys pulled at It. Blew their snot on It. Yelled, `It's coming." Tracey's life at her "scary monster house" is no better, her parents alternately catatonically miserable and ruthlessly cruel; they warn Tracy that she'll wind up like her mentally unstable grandmother, who apparently walked the streets in search of abusive men. In her utter isolation Tracey often escapes into a fantasy world where a gorgeous boy, Billy Speed, loves her. The flip side of her psychic dislocation is that she vividly dreams of killing her family, strangers and herself. In fragmented prose mirroring Tracey's splintered identity, Medved gradually reveals her protagonist's devastating reality (that Billy Speed raped her) as well as her sources of hope, her 10-year-old vanished brother, Sonny, who thinks he's a dog, and the distorted memory of her grandmother. Medved skillfully blends Tracey's frenzied facts and fictions into a cohesive portrait of a teenager on the verge of imploding. Tracey's frantic speech, repetitive yet evasive, sometimes appears in capital letters; other times she manages a dry, deadpan voice, like when she's talking about her psychiatrist. Rivulets of hope somehow seep through this taut, harrowing narrative as Tracey examines the steps she's taken, like her grandmother, to search for a world beyond the "monster house." (Aug.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter One I'm so happy. Have an amazing life. Now I'm going to scratch my eyes out.     Think I'm funny? I'M AN EMERGENCY -- sitting here, naked underneath the flowers on this scummy shower curtain.     IT'S NOT MY FAULT. My DNA's fucked. You can ask Dr. Heker. Or, at least you could have, a lifetime ago. She was my psychiatrist. The problem is congenital, I heard her say once. Behind the door. I think she was on the phone.     I'd also like to thank my parents. Their parents. God. My boyfriend. ESPECIALLY MY BOYFRIEND. When we met, the world got so clear you could hear a fork tinging against a glass in Mozambique. These days, my head could explode and I'd never even notice. My name is Tracey Berkowitz. Fifteen. Just a normal girl who hates herself.     Nobody can do anything. I can't talk about any of it.     I can't talk to them. I'd never go back to those freaking retards. Remember in the news when two retards made a kid?     That was me.     Just kidding.     Nothing outside this grimy window.     For days, I've been on and off this plastic seat.     Wondering why.     The world sucks.     No matter how you cut the world.     And I haven't talked to anyone on this bus.     Till now.     I'm heading somewhere. Here where I'm from is black and white. Black sky, white snow. In the spring, the snow melts into two rivers that cross in Blue Jay Park. What's left surrounds miles of wavy grain. Black-and-white cows blotch the plain. Farmhouses crumble to dust. Dust blows into the city and whirls on street corners like little tornadoes.     I had no choice about growing up here. I was a hothouse cauliflower. My parents grew me here against my will.     I knew I'd do better in the streets. Become a rock star. Maybe join a freak show, force-fed so I can become a fat lady.     Maybe in a few years they'd appreciate me. Maybe not. Before I left, I had plans to form a metalcore band made of me -- Estuary Palomino, my stage name -- and my boyfriend. My boyfriend is gorgeous. Famous. Long hair. And sings. What happened that day wasn't my boyfriend. My boyfriend's name is Billy Speed. Nobody calls him that. Only I call him that. Because he is my boyfriend. His real name is Bernie Himelfarb. That means Bernie Blue Heavens.     Billy Speed isn't like everyone else. He foams. A Venus off the half-hell. He could have anyone. No one else even knows him. It's probably obvious I've been around. And around. Yes, Billy Speed touched me. This one time. When it happened.     Nobody steams the way we steamed each other. All those hot and tiny vapours vibrated when we touched skin to skin. The other day, something happened. Made my life pornographic. The day it happened. At Blue Jay Park. Sonny. Billy Speed. It. It's not my fault. When things happen, you come to certain realizations. I can't tell you what. You'll end up on this bus. Like me. Looking for someone. Sonny. That's my brother. My little doggie. Wish I had one of those whistles. He'd be here now. On the side of the road. Barking. Before Sonny, I played every day by myself. Wrapped my legs around stalks of trees. Hoisted myself branch by branch till I forgot where I was. Squinted till my eyes became slits and the sky became sea. In the winter, I'd sit in snowbanks and pee if I had to. At night I pressed my face against my window screen. Mosquitoes whined and crickets whistled. I looked up at the stars. Nobody knows how when Sonny came he made everything new.     My father brought him to our house. Found him in the snow. My father told me. Under a dead bitch. My parents didn't want Sonny. Spoon in my mouth. Duck bib stretching out. Refrigerator humming. He grabbed her on his knee. She wriggled like she had to go to the bathroom. They fought like wild biting dogs, he leapt over her, turning, barking her all over the linoleum, sweat flying, chasing each other up the stairs and slamming the door. I heard them. Made the bed clack back and forth like a train on the tracks. A head squeezed. Upside down between a pair of legs. Then a slippery elephant trunk. In that order.     Sonny came out smirking, like he was born into a joke.     "It was your fault," my mother said, glaring at my father from under her hair.     "Sure, it was all my fault," he said. I wanted Sonny. He was my baby. I fed him. I washed him with soap in the sink. I put him to bed in his crib.     Now I don't have anything. Except this hard plastic stuck all over me. Big ugly flowers. Shower-curtain ring-holes. My eyes in this dirty bus window.     And I don't care.     I'll stay on this bus till I find Sonny. I'll ride around in here, smearing the dirt from this window to see. Copyright © 1998 Maureen Medved. All rights reserved.

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