‘Julia K’ by May-Lan Tan

The dark sexy glitter of May-Lan Tan’s writing blew me away when I first read this debut collection. Like Angela Carter, she’s excellent on atmospheric surface detail and, by that, I don’t mean she’s shallow; surface detail is what grounds a story. It was hard to choose my favourite from this collection as they work as a whole, but ‘Julia K’, about a mysterious alluring woman who lives upstairs from the narrator, is full of Tan’s characteristic hard-edged, occasionally hallucinatory imagery: “Kissing Julia was like kissing language. Her tongue was a flame, licking phoneme and diphthong. She swallowed me like a sword and her eyes were doves, her mouth a lake of fire.”

(from Things To Make and Break, CB Editions, 2014)

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