Episode 5: Tell the Wolves I'm Home by Carol Rifka Brunt
Tell the Wolves I'm Home takes place in 1987. The narrator, June, is fifteen years old, and her uncle Finn, an artist, has just died of AIDS. June, who had a very close, intense relationship with Finn, learns after his death that Finn had a long-time partner, Toby, whom June had never met nor even heard about. Toby, who is also dying of AIDS, reaches out to June. The two develop a clandestine relationship. Meanwhile, June's relationship with her beautiful and talented 16-year-old sister, Greta, slides into decay. The novel takes its name from Finn's final painting, a portrait of June and Greta, which he completed just before he died.
The book has the feel of a fairy tale, but there's no obvious wicked witch, no literal big bad wolf. “I don’t really like villains in books,” said author Carol Rifka Brunt, calling in from her home in England. “No one’s a villain here. All of the motivations we maybe recognize to some degree in ourselves . . . [and] the reason we forgive is because it’s human.”
Guest readers Deborah Cantrell and Sarah Woodford join host Cyd Oppenheimer to talk about innocence lost, negative space, and the interplay of love, jealousy, and need.