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Book DetailsISBN: 9781760879976
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Book Review: She Is Haunted by Paige Clark - Reviewed by CloggieA (19 Jul 2021)
3.5?s She Is Haunted is a collection of eighteen short stories by Chinese/American/Australian author, Paige Clark.
The stories vary in subject matter, length and quality: some are a little weird, some veer towards surreal, making the reader feel witness to an “in” joke to which they are not privy. These are not necessarily representative of the whole.
A pregnant woman makes a deal with God; an injures ballet dancer is jealous of her husband’s dancing partner; an obsessive call centre worker falls for a colleague; a young woman has a morbid fear of earthquakes, perhaps justified while living in Los Angeles; a young wife grieves; a husband’s old flame visits; a student strives to excel in a breaking home;
An ex-wife obsesses about custody of the dog; a sister remembers childhood when she and her brother move her mother out of the family home; a Chinese woman begins a relationship with a vegetarian anaesthetist; a daughter is estranged from her mother over hair cutting issues; a barista recalls a childhood friendship; a couple has complementary brain surgeries to help them cope with the parlous state of the planet.
A dead Chinese daughter divides her time between her living mother and the dead she has met, her Po Po and a certain dead Neil with lunar connections, while her dead mother in a hell ruled by a certain blue-suede-shoed Devil, remembers differently; friends share a yellow pea coat; two friends share horoscopes, fortune cookies, tea leaves, superstitions and sentimentalities and secrets; in her Care Facility, eighty-year-old Rosa reviews an unsatisfactory life; after the death of her mother, a young woman considers suicide.
The names of protagonists from many of the stories are variations of Elizabeth, and while there may be some tenuous connections, it seems more like these are different iterations of the same character. What humour there is humour seems a bit warped.
While it is likely that different readers will connect with different stories, most outstanding of this mixed bag are Safety Triangle, Times I’ve Wanted To Be You, In A Room Of Chinese Women, Cracks, Private Eating, and Amygdala. An original, eclectic and unusual debut. This unbiased review is from a copy provided by Allen & Unwin.
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