Working at a bookstore is wonderful and daunting, in that people value your tastes enough to trust your recommendations. So often, though, a request for a recommendation comes with a caveat: Nothing too violent, please. No incest, no rape, no bodily harm… And I quieten, as my favourite books are slipped back onto the shelf.
So I won’t sugarcoat it: Peach is the story of a violent assault, and what happens to bodies and psyches in the days that ensue. It is an uncomfortable read. Upsetting and unsettling. At times, it is gross.
But it is absolutely engrossing. In under a hundred pages, Emma Glass will have you viscerally transfixed. I read it in one sitting. I was ‘hooked,’ from the first page.
“Thick stick sticky sticking wet ragged wool winding round the wounds, stitching the sliced skin together as I walk, scraping my mittened hand against the wall. Rough red bricks ripping the wool. Ripping the skin. Rough red skin. Rough red head.”
The awkwardness of trauma is its temporal slipperiness: Even as it obliterates you, life goes on. Peach has a mam and a dad to come home to. A ‘squidgy’ baby to check on. And there are everyday exchanges to be had. Supper to eat. Secrets to swallow. Bedtime.
And as a new day breaks, distress dissolves into paranoia, anxiety following everywhere, as Peach has classes to attend, and friends to avoid. She has a boyfriend, too. Who is kind and devoted. Who wants to touch and make love to her.
Emma Glass outlines these critical conflicts and internal inconsistencies in language so instinctual, you physically experience Peach’s pains and joys with her. And there is pain, in all its gory detail, exposure to which makes life’s moments all the more precious. All the more joyous. And like a good peach, this book is sweet. Tender and wet and dripping with affect.
“I don't know what to do with myself. After silently dancing around the house in pyjamas for a really long time and dancing silently beside Baby asleep in his cot and feeling silly, I go into the living room and decide to watch TV. I think I should study but I’m too distracted. A bit happy and unfocused. Loose and juicy. I laugh.”
It is absolutely engrossing. In under a hundred pages, Emma Glass will have you viscerally transfixed.
As a reader, Peach did what I hoped it would do: It offered a nuanced appreciation of the horrors of having your body brutally interfered with. It shed light onto the darkening silences that encircle sexual violence. It detailed how attempts to make meaning within one’s self clashes and then casually coincides with exterior facade.
But my succeeded expectations gave way to astonishment. And that is what sets this book apart. Peach isn’t, like a lot of rape literature, a mere education in empathy. Peach isn’t out to preach.
This book is privy to our growing, collective rage at the regularity by which violence is conducted against young bodies. It is hilarious and unpredictable and…
Well, that’s enough. I can’t spoil a story this deliciously well-crafted.
Danielle reads mostly contemporary fiction, and creative (memoir, cultural criticism, feminist theory etc.) non-fiction. She reads across time and place and is loyal to those who've captured her heart (Ali Smith, Maggie Nelson, Janet Malcolm, among other brilliant minds). She should probably read more books by men, but she's not losing sleep over it.