Book Review: Not Merely Because of the Unknown that was Stalking Toward Them

Jenny Boully

Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2011

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Microreview Not Merely Because of the Unknown that was Stalking Toward Them

In Jenny Boully’s Not Merely Because of the Unknown that was Stalking Toward Them,

Boully brings us into the dark underside of J.M Barrie’s classic, Peter Pan and Wendy, exposing
us to what lies beneath this beloved children’s story. Written as a swan song from Wendy to
Peter, it examines what happens when we long for someone who does not long for us in the same
way, and the interchangeable nature of roles like mother, sister, daughter, lover—as it pertains to
the underlying sexual tones of Barrie’s work. We are left questioning the roles of each female
character including Wendy, Tiger Lily, Mrs. Darling and of course, Tinker Bell. Boully raises the
question of what it means to be replaced in a boy’s mind, as Peter continually seeks a
mother/lover figure, someone to pretend with, drawing broader questions about Oedipus-like
complex’s, and the ever-associative “Peter Pan Complex”; the idea that men are perpetually
infantile, and that women are expected to take care of them. Layered therein, are questions about
Captain Hook’s motives, with more underlying sexual tones towards Wendy, not Peter, as is often
assumed. The dark and sinister prose is an intriguing read that is hard to put down; and once
finished, makes the reader want to pick it up again, and explore its vast depth, where new questions seem to arise upon each read.

Somatic Review of Jenny Boully’s Not Merely Because of the Unknown that was Stalking Toward Them

Take a thimble if you have one, if you have one you can take it with you, but if you don’t then
you can borrow one, or make-believe you have one/ Take your thimble and find a wooded area,
near a river, near a lake, in the mountains, by a trail…somewhere you can be lost for awhile/Take
your thimble and put it on your pinky finger/Close your eyes and imagine being inside that
thimble, inside that thimble that is nimble on your finger/Take the thimble off your finger and put
it in your pocket/Now get down on your hands and knees and feel the earth beneath you,
underneath you/Run your fingers through it and get dirty, run the dirt on your skin, on your face,
on your clothes/Remember you are lost/Forget what clean feels like, what home feels like, this is
your new home/Embrace the wooded area, climb a tree, climb a rock, build a fort/Now sit, sit
inside your fort, or your tree, your new home/Close your eyes/Imagine your mother/Imagine her
waiting for you to come home/Imagine how worried she must be, she must be somewhere
near/Imagine if she was no longer your mother, your mother could be someone else/Someone
you played with as a child, someone you loved, someone you slept with/ Read aloud at the top of
your lungs, “Peter Pan can do a great deal in ten minutes. He can do a great deal to you. For
example, he can put a little something inside of you, and you will carry that for the rest of your
life; thimble all empty underneath in the inside” (61)./ Take out your thimble/examine it/put it in
your mouth/hold it there and make sure not to swallow it, or if you prefer, imagine what it would
be like to swallow it/Spit the thimble out and taste the metallic flavor as you read loudly, “A
thimble may protect against pricks, pin pricks, needle pricks, Tinkerpricks, but not hooks, never
hooks. When he stabs his hook into you, you will see that his eyes are the blue of forget-me-nots
—but that is Hook and not Peter—Peter who will forget you” (1).

Reviewer: Heather VandeRiet

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