Helen does things differently. Her stories are written like poetry, are funny, are bright, are complete and vivid and make you think. She deconstructs old ideas and makes them new. She is a proper artist. I loved her first collection On the Edges of Vision, and her novel Flesh of the Peach.
And this story, from this collection, got me right from the very beginning.
Muggy air. Plum in up to the wrists. Picking rinds from the stopped waste disposal. He’s pulled the machinery out so nothing can get you. But you know there are so many ways in which you can be gnawed upon. It scares you into effrontery, into brittle spectacle. No roses, you say, no damn chocolate, like thin poise is going to help you live intact.
It’s a story about physicality, and memory, and damage. It’s about who owns you (and who you own), and for how long and in in what ways. It’s about the body and the mind and how they are separate and the same, and how they tell stories, together and by themselves. It’s about escape and power and the nearness and farness away of everything. Reading it always takes my breath away, and I can’t articulate why, really.
It’s very short, and it’s dazzling.