‘Peach’ is the story about a young girl aptly named Peach who we discover staggering home after a catastrophic event that will change her life forever; going home to her parents who don’t really see her and who are too interested in carving out time for sex to notice her difficult and life altering predicament. Peach patches herself up and heads to college to spend time with her boyfriend Green, her port in a storm. Glass takes us into the mind of Peach as she comes to terms with her assault and the lasting effects that this has on her life and body. Glass masterfully ramps up the tension and horror to a cacophony of deafening proportions with her conclusion offering us terror that literally gets right under your skin.
I firmly believe the best way to experience ‘Peach’ is to read it without knowing too much about the story, which is why I have kept this review as spoiler free as possible. The joy of Glass’ unabashed tone and construction of her writing is two of the stand out components to ‘Peach’ and discovering Glass’ writing is something that will live long in the memory.
‘I feel the damp wood behind my back, fine droplets of fluid soak into my sweatshirt. Could be rain, could be piss. It stinks. But I let it sink into me. I am dirty. I am driven. I clutch the knife close to my chest. I want to tuck it up under my clothes to feel close to the steel, to touch it to my skin, to rake the blade over the fuzz of my flesh, feel the sharp edge, I could slip it in and sit it deep inside my bones. The sharp edge. The edge. The edge I am on, I am on edge, standing on a ledge with the drop to oblivion below me.’
Glass articulates with mastery the horror that happens to Peach with an authenticity and boldness; I can’t for one instance begin to imagine what Peach’s experience was like or that of those women and men whose lives have been affected and altered by the events that Glass talks about. Glass to her credit delves into the mindset of sexual assault victims and discloses the innermost workings of the mind of the sufferer, the unspeakable horror and shame, the isolating despair and graphic violence that cause the reader to be deeply moved and forever changed by her words.
Glass brings a boldness and fearlessness to her writing (a debut novelist who you would be mistaken for believing was a seasoned professional) that is both raw and stylistic; applying a rhythmic staccato to a mastery of poetic alliteration that works in creating a quality of fiction that has never been seen before.
‘I take the mirror from the shelf. I spread the towel on the floor and sit with my back against the door. I part my legs slowly and slot the mirror between my thighs. I put my hand over my mouth to stop the sick. I use my other hand to touch. The skin is split. Slit. Sliced. With two trembling fingers I touch the split skin, hold the slit together. Blood dribbles delicately. I look closely into the mirror. Fluid streams from my eyes, trickles over my tummy, runs into the red. Little rivers. Little ribbons. Slithers of silk. Torn skin. Stained scarlet.’
Glass showcases that poetry and fiction can live in harmony, creating a new kind of monster in the process. I will never look at fiction writing in the same way after discovering the genius that is Emma Glass, in my opinion she’s changed the rule book when it comes to fiction writing in the future, a landscape that will be forever changed – such is the power of ‘Peach’.
I believe that the length of the book (short novella) aids the impact and use of Glass’ stylistic quality; ensuring that ‘Peach’ is compelling from the first page to the conclusion of the story. After finishing the book, I feel that if Glass were to have expanded the reading experience, the stylistic qualities that Glass deftly uses to her credit could have become quite repetitive and in doing so possibly have disengage the reader. So, credit where credit is due to Glass and her editors in creating a fierce, petite and gruesome tale that lives long after the final pages are read. The conclusion of the novel reminded me of one of my favourite authors Chuck Palahniuk and his short story ‘Guts’ which is possibly one of the biggest compliments I could afford Glass.
Glass deploys a bold and brazen I don’t give a f**k about the rules approach to her writing, which is as refreshing as it is engaging. Glass’ writing is fierce and brave, full of poetic power that makes it an experience I’ll never forget. ‘Peach’ is an experience that leaves a scar, a constant reminder that the past is real and that you are now changed forever.
Emma Glass was born in Swansea. She studied English Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Kent, then decided to become a nurse and went back to study Children’s Nursing at Swansea University. She lives in north London and is a research nurse specialist at Evelina London Children’s Hospital. Peach is her first book.
Peach is published by Bloomsbury Circus on the 11th January 2018 and is available from Bloomsbury directly here or you can purchase a copy from Waterstones by clicking on their logo below.
Reviewed by Ross Jeffery
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