salt slow by Julia Armfield

salt slow is an absolute joy to read – much of the writing is beautiful, and the craft behind each story is palpable yet effortless

Book Review by Beth Cochrane | 24 May 2019
  • salt slow by Julia Armfield
Book title: salt slow
Author: Julia Armfield

Julia Armfield’s debut collection of short stories salt slow is an absolute joy to read. It’s visceral and abject and much of the writing is beautiful. The craft behind each story and sentence is palpable yet effortless in a way that only the most talented writers can achieve.

A highlight of the collection is The Great Awake, a story which explores sleep and our turbulent relationship with having and not having it. Armfield personifies sleep and cuts it from the human experience, creating a world where Sleeps are separate entities from their people, leaving us in a state of constant wakefulness. In another, Cassandra After, a woman’s dead girlfriend returns to her as a living cadaver, only to continue rotting in the protagonist’s home. It’s pieces like this and The Great Awake which most captured the attention and imagination, both for the brilliant execution of plot and the askew strangeness of each concept.

Her writing often reflects the world as a dreamlike counter-reality, which somehow sharpens the image by distorting it, and it's hoped this strangeness is expanded in the author's future work. The writing forces the reader to examine everyday anxieties and relationships in ways which are unfamiliar yet pointedly perceptive. Armfield is certainly a writer to look out for in the future. [Beth Cochrane]

Picador, 30 May, £12.99