“In the midst of all these haunted people, she sat alone, without a ghost yet longing for one, her writing like a clasp of fingers around empty air.”
This collection of stories is about women and their experiences in society, about bodies and the bodily, mapping the skin and bones of its characters through their experiences of isolation, obsession and love. Throughout the collection, women become insects, men turn to stone, a city becomes insomniac and bodies are picked apart to make up better ones. The mundane worlds of schools and sea side towns are invaded and transformed by the physical, creating a landscape which is constantly shifting to hold on to the bodies of its inhabitants. Blending the mythic and the fantastic, the collection considers characters in motion – turning away, turning back or simply turning into something new.
Firstly thank you so much to FMCM Associates and the 2019 Sunday Times/University of Warwick Young Writer of the Year Award for reaching out to me and asking if I want to read Salt Slow. I have to admit this is not my typical genre to read however I was intrigued by this book as soon as I had heard about it and knew that I wanted to pick it up.
This book started off so strong with the first story. “Mantis” is a raw and painful portrayal of a young girl and the issues that she has with her body. We follow her going through puberty and the struggles that she feels. This story takes such sinister turn I had to read the story twice just to be sure that I understood. “Mantis” really did just set the tone for the rest of the short stories in this book.
Another favourite of mine was “The Great Awake” the concept of this short story is just amazing. An eerie phenomenon which leads to most citizens suffering insomnia. Their “sleep” becomes an unwanted guest .. for the majority of them. It is such an atmospheric and eerie story that the short story will have you on the edge of your seat. Honestly, this story alone is definitely worth picking the book up.
“The Collectables” this story was also excellent. Imagine being a witch, and going through a breakup the same as your friends. You all dislike your ex partners and wonder if you can make the perfect man. So you try to do just that, using human parts. Yes, human parts. I don’t even want to know what goes on in Julia’s head, but whatever it is it is bloody fantastic. Such a grim, dark but perfect story that might actually be my favourite story in the book.
I could go on. There wasn’t a bad story in this book and I felt a connection with all the nine main characters that we met throughout. I really did feel for them in certain parts. Each story haunted me in a different way to the previous one. I didn’t enjoy some of the short stories as much as I did the others but there wasn’t one bad story that I found within.
Salt Slow is such a fantastic collection of short stories with underlying magical realism from a debut author that deserve all the recognition that she gets. Julia Armfield has such a wonderful way with words, her imagery is excellent and she can really turn your world upside down with one of her short stories. This is a well deserved nomination for the young writers award 2019 and I suggest that you pick this book up.