Short, sharp, hard hitting and playing with your perception, Peach by Emma Glass is a unique, little (98 pages) story that uses every word with purpose to give us a visceral experience of – trigger warning here – a young woman trying to wrestle with her feelings post-rape.
Opening sentence: Thick stick sticky sticking wet ragged wool winding round the wounds, stitching the sliced skin together as I walk, scraping my mittened hand against the wall.
Suspend your disbelief
An obviously traumatic experience, Peach, our eponymous narrator is ashamed, scared, confused and overwhelmingly angry. She struggles with verbalising what has happened to her – to either her parents or boyfriend – so her emotions manifest themselves as a faux-pregnancy bulge. Her pent up anger and hurt has a physical representation so people ask how she is and comment on it.
Peach grabs you round the eyes with its blend of some of the most graphic scenes I’ve read recently and some of the most surreal too. This technique works to make you uncomfortable, momentarily not know what’s happening until, like Peach, clarity and then you see.
A subconscious story
Written with a staccato rhythm to the prose both jolts you and pulls you in – it might take a little getting used to but I really liked it. It really worked to convey Peach’s stuttering mind and emphasise that it is her subconscious that’s telling us her story.
So, you know when you subconsciously attribute something to a person (they are a little feline, for example) well that is what happens here – most of the people in the story are metaphors of their most overt characteristics – her baby brother is a cute Jelly Baby, her boyfriend a protective tree. I’ve never read a story before that does this and does it so well.
Green shakes little leaves as he laughs. His laugh is deep and in his chest. His breath tickles his twiggy throat and makes, deep, gentle notes.
I was fully engrossed from the opening sentence; Peach explores a very sensitive issue and uses surrealism and metaphor to do that in a way that makes it – ironically – so real.
By coincidence, I’ve read two other powerful books recently that look at different variants of pent up female rage – Animal by Lisa Taddeo and The Harpy by Megan Hunter. Would highly recommend them too.
- Get your copy of Peach here;
- Published by Bloomsbury 2018;
- 98 pages;
- My rating: