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[Review] Salt Slow by Julia Armfield

By A.M. Larks

 

Julia Armfield’s Salt Slow is a collection of stories that bend around reality and peek into the often unexamined corners of women’s journey through life and into adulthood. This concept is beautifully captured in the duality that exists in each story between the self and the monster. However, the monster is always part of the self, whether that be a thing one has birthed like in the title story, a shadow sleep self in “The Great Awake”, or the embodiment of characteristics in “Formerly Feral” and “The Collectibles”.

 

Armfield explores this duality, the same that exists in the very nature of womanhood, throughout this collection by focusing on the body. The bodies in the collection both contain and betray the protagonists resulting in characters that should both be feared and are afraid. As the narrator in “Mantis” begins her tale with “I have my Grandmother’s skin. Problem skin.”, but later notes at the end that “My mouth is wide with anticipation. Not for kissing but for something more in keeping with my genes.”

 

The transformations in each story are poignant as each character deals with the accompanying burden or freedom of said conversion. But Armfield’s world is not so binary; each story of change holds a myriad of burdens and freedoms on the spectrum from large to miniscule. It is an electrifying collection with sharp biting prose that will sink its teeth into your conscious.



A.M. Larks’s writing has appeared in NiftyLitScoundrel TimeAssay: A Journal of Nonfiction StudiesFive on the FifthCharge Magazine, and the  ZYZZYVA  and  Ploughshares  blogs. She has served as a judge for the Loud Karma Productions’ Emerging Female and Nonbinary Playwriting Award and has performed her stories at Lit Up at Town Hall Theatre in Lafayette, CA. She is the managing editor and blog editor at Kelp Journal. She is the former fiction editor at Please See Me, the former blog editor at The Coachella Review, as well as the former photography editor at Kelp Journal. A.M. Larks earned an MFA in creative writing from UC Riverside at Palm Desert, a JD, and a BA in English literature.

 

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