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Description - She Is Haunted by Paige Clark

I know lots of things now that I'm dead. Peter from Apartment Two has a spastic bladder. My former boss Morgan keeps her toenails in a gold jewellery box. My brother and his wife are trying for a baby. I always excuse myself before things get too heated.

I don't know much about my mother yet. I am waiting for grief to catch her, but she mostly seems ashamed-of her body, of what it made.

A mother cuts her daughter's hair because her own starts falling out. A woman leaves her boyfriend because he reminds her of a corpse; another undergoes brain surgery to try to live more comfortably in higher temperatures. A widow physically transforms into her husband so that she does not have to grieve.

In She Is Haunted, these renditions of the author search for recognition and connection, and, more than anything else, small moments of empathy. But in what world will she move beyond her haunted past and find compassion for herself?

With piercing insights into transnational Asian identity, intergenerational trauma and grief, the dynamics of mother-daughter relationships, the inexplicable oddities of female friendship, and the love of a good dog, Paige Clark has crafted an exquisite, moving and sophisticated debut work of fiction. Full of wit and humour, She Is Haunted announces an entrancing new literary voice as contemporary as it is unique.

'The real meets the ethereal here and becomes something all its own. Clark is the best new writer in Australia and this book is like nothing else.' Robert Lukins, author of The Everlasting Sunday

'The stories in She is Haunted grapple with a mix of timeless human problems and uniquely contemporary dilemmas: grief, illness, identity, and heartbreak, but also who gets custody of the dog after a break-up, bureaucratic responses to deeply personal relationship issues, and the politics of food. Paige Clark writes with wit, warmth and nuance, using precise, playful language, giving us a collection of (sometimes embarrassingly) relatable characters, sneaky insights and surprising bursts of joy.' Emily Maguire, author of Love Objects and An Isolated Incident

'Paige Clark's stories contain worlds within pages. Like Carmen Maria Machado, she takes ideas and runs with them into strange, often uneasy places. From the ordinary to the bizarre, these compelling stories reveal biting truths about race, relationships and life.' Giselle Au-Nhien Nguyen, writer and critic

'A stunning collection of short stories about identity, connection and trying to make sense of our modern world. Paige Clark is a star.' Hannah-Rose Yee, journalist and writer

'A wondrous spirit animates SHE IS HAUNTED. In sentences of bracing snap and clarity, Clark's stories delight and amuse, even as they expose tender truths and secrets. An astonishing debut.' Wells Tower, author of Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned

Buy She Is Haunted by Paige Clark from Australia's Online Independent Bookstore, Boomerang Books.

Book Details

ISBN: 9781760879976
Format: Paperback / softback
(234mm x 153mm x mm)
Pages: 272
Imprint: Allen & Unwin
Publisher: Allen & Unwin
Publish Date: 2-Jul-2021
Country of Publication: Australia

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Book Reviews - She Is Haunted by Paige Clark

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Book Review: She Is Haunted by Paige Clark - Reviewed by (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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