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BOOK REVIEW: Peach by Emma Glass

Friday, July 13, 2018

 

The Blurb (From Goodreads):

Something has happened to Peach. Staggering around the town streets in the aftermath of an assault, Peach feels a trickle of blood down her legs, a lingering smell of her anonymous attacker on her skin. It hurts to walk, but she manages to make her way to her home, where she stumbles into another oddly nightmarish reality: Her parents can't seem to comprehend that anything has happened to their daughter.

The next morning, Peach tries to return to the routines of her ordinary life, going to classes, spending time with her boyfriend, Green, trying to find comfort in the thought of her upcoming departure for college. And yet, as Peach struggles through the next few days, she is stalked by the memories of her unacknowledged trauma. Sleeping is hard when she is haunted by the glimpses of that stranger's gaping mouth. Working is hard when her assailant's rancid smell still fills her nostrils. Eating is impossible when her stomach is swollen tight as a drum. Though she tries to close her eyes to what has happened, Peach at last begins to understand the drastic, gruesome action she must take.


My Thoughts:

An extraordinary, savage, and surreal novel by a young British debut author, Peach is quite unlike any novel I’ve read in a long time.

A young woman named Peach stumbles home, blood trickling down her leg, language shattering to pieces in her head: ‘Thick stick sticky sticking wet ragged wool winding round the wounds, stitching the sliced skin together as I walk, scraping my mittened hands against the wall. Rough red bricks ripping the wool. Ripping the skin. Rough red skin. Rough red head.’

There is a sense that whatever has happened to Peach has been so traumatic, so destructive, that her very sense of the world has been broken open and rendered inchoate.

She makes it home, and stitches herself closed. Normal life seems abnormal. Her parents are oblivious, self-obsessed, sex-fixated. All Peach’s perceptions seem preoccupied by thoughts of food. Her baby brother is jelly: ‘his jelly body jiggles.’ Her boyfriend Green is a tree: ‘He kisses my mouth and I taste twigs. His brown eyes take root in mine.’ Her teacher Mr Custard is, unsurprisingly, ‘yellow goop’. Her attacker is a sausage, and his lingering ‘smell of rotting pig meat’ overwhelms her.

In an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, Emma Glass said she wanted to create a ‘sensory experience’ by focusing on language rather than a conventional plot. In this she has succeeded. The staccato sentences, relentless repetition, and adroit word play create an intense, raw and visceral tone. Nothing and no-one seems real. Peach has staggered into a nightmarish and absurdist world. ‘Everything that was up is down. Gravity is gone.’

It is not an easy book to read, because of this intensity. I kept having to put the book down, to try and settle my stomach and my mind, only to pick it up again, troubled but riveted. Her stream-of-consciousness style reminds me of James Joyce, William Faulkner, Toni Morrison and Arundhati Roy. It is written in language cracked by violence and cruelty. As Emma Glass said herself, it is ‘the language of ordeal’.

A tour-de-force in experimental writing, Peach is bold, surprising, and unsettling. Not for the weak-stomached.


You might be interested in reading my review of The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy.

I was lucky enough to interview Emma Glass this week, you can read it here.

Have you read Peach? Please leave a comment and let me know what you think.

INTERVIEW: Emma Glass

Friday, July 13, 2018

 

Today we welcome Emma Glass, author of Peach, to the blog.

Tell me a little about yourself – where were you born, where do you live, what do you like to do?
I was born and raised in Swansea, South Wales. I’ve lived in London for seven years where I work as a children’s nurse. I’m still figuring out how to be both a writer and a nurse, my work is essential, it’s an amazing source of inspiration and makes me feel like a useful, helpful person. Writing is my escape, but I wish I had a little more balance in my life as I rarely have extended periods of time to write. When I’m not nursing or writing I like to run on Hampstead Heath and spend time cooking and eating.

What is your favourite part of writing?
The best part of writing is finishing a piece and having someone read it, that’s when the writing becomes a story.

What do you do when you get blocked?

Cry. Learning how to be a productive writer is still a challenge for me. The best advice I heard from another writer to avoid block is to stop writing when you realise you’re on a roll. It’s much more appealing to go back to writing something you’re excited about than to go back to something you feel stuck on.

Who are ten of your favourite writers?
Patrick DeWitt
Magnus Mills
George Saunders
Margaret Atwood
Roald Dahl
Gertrude Stein
James Joyce
Shirley Jackson
Ann Patchett
Joan Lindsey

What do you consider to be good writing?
Writing that doesn’t just open up your imagination, but evokes reactions that you can feel in your body, something that stays with you a long time.

What is your advice for someone dreaming of being a writer too?
Don’t compromise on your art. Take advice on titles for your work. Always have a back up plan; writers need food and water, like plants and flowers.

What are you working on now?

Hopefully a ghost story!

You can read my review of Peach here.

Please leave a comment!



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