‘Thirst’ by Frances Kruk

Kruk’s work is vital and important. This short story is a portrait of Martha, a woman who has a skin condition. Her mother has recommended daubing herself with urine and buttermilk, but it is not helping. The story’s language loses words as the protagonist’s skin flakes off, alternately verbless (“under it the face and body of Martha”) and subjectless (“At the table pours black pepper on the shapelessness”). Kruk is better known as a poet and the language displays this, pared down to an unrivalled intensity and ending in an oblique crescendo. Something about its quiet and fizzing energy has stayed with me.

In Gone Lawn 8, 2012