Salt Slow (Book Review)
by Julia Armfield
4 /5 - Short Stories
I received this book from my sister for Christmas. She likes to pick random books for me to read, so this was a fun surprise. I've been so bogged down with NetGalley arcs it was nice to read an actual book. The cover is really pretty.
As usual with most short story collections, it’s hard to provide an overall rating, as the quality of the stories varies. With this collection, while there were 2-3 stories I loved, there wasn’t one that I didn’t enjoy. Every story is engaging, well-written, and enjoyable.
While there is a clear feminist lens, or at least a female-focused perspective, to all the stories, the stories aren’t one depressing tale after the other like Her Bodies and Other Parties I read earlier in the year. I wouldn’t call them uplifting, but they aren’t doom and gloom.
The stories range from realistic slices of life to stories with a hint of the supernatural to metaphorical exercises. Armfield writes with a refreshing mix of clear and concise prose peppered with thoughtful and thought-provoking metaphors.
As a whole, it’s a sometimes fun, sometimes moody collection of short stories that are easy to read and digest.
Because I enjoy doing so, I’m going to go a little in-depth with some of the stories.
This was a fantastic start to the collection. Is it metaphorical? Is it literal? You could take it either way, but the lead-up, the subtle hints, the way it draws you in was so well done.
The Great Awake
This was my favourite of the collection. It reminded me a little of “Light and the Sufferer” (by Jonathan Lethem*) in its tone and the casual acceptance of the supernatural element. I was completely entranced by it and want to read it again.
*Upon googling the story to double-check the title, I discovered there was a movie made of the story? Really? Didn’t seem like it got great reviews so I think I’ll skip it.
This one was interesting in its twist at the end, though I think it should have been called Gorgon.
I suppose I should talk about the titular story of the collection, though it was one of my least favourites. I think because I’ve read so many “pregnant during the apocalypse” stories (hell, I’ve written one), and because I’ve just given birth a few months ago, I tend to pick those aspects apart. The story is basically just Waterworld with sea monsters, so I'd much rather have skipped the whole pregnancy bit and had the couple dealing with the creatures/surviving.