Shortlisted for the Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year Award
From White Review Short Story Prize winner Julia Armfield, a brilliant, provocative debut story collection for fans of Carmen Maria Machado and Kelly Link.
In her electrifying debut, Julia Armfield explores women’s experiences in contemporary society, mapped through their bodies. As urban dwellers’ sleeps become disassociated from them, like Peter Pan’s shadow, a city turns insomniac. A teenager entering puberty finds her body transforming in ways very different than her classmates’. As a popular band gathers momentum, the fangirls following their tour turn into something monstrous. After their parents remarry, two step-sisters, one a girl and one a wolf, develop a dangerously close bond. And in an apocalyptic landscape, a pregnant woman begins to realize that the creature in her belly is not what she expected.
Blending elements of horror, science fiction, mythology, and feminism, salt slow is an utterly original collection of short stories that are sure to dazzle and shock, heralding the arrival of a daring new voice.
In Armfield's unsettling, uncanny, and utterly delightful debut, wolves, mythological monsters, and seemingly ordinary girls and women abound. In "Formerly Feral," a girl's neighbor from across the street adopts a wolf and names her Helen. When the girl's parents divorce, her father remarries the neighbor and she gains a new stepsister in Helen, and the two develop a deep bond. In "Stop Your Women's Ears with Wax," Mona is on tour supporting a popular girl band making music that inspires violent desires in their young female fans. Black feathers in their dressing room hint at their more sinister true identity. In "Granite," a woman on the cusp of 30 finds a lover her first whose body is slowly turning to stone as she looks at him. The best story in the collection is the most conceptually ambitious: "The Great Awake," in which a person's ability to sleep is anthropomorphized, becoming a separate shadow entity. Armfield occasionally deploys startling, stunning turns of phrase: "Two a.m., the dark throat of summer." Razor-sharp, stylish, and imaginative, Armfield's collection is a dazzling introduction to a talented writer.