Avec ma main brulée, j’écris sur la nature du feu —Ingeborg Bachmann, Malina, quoting Flaubert
[With my burnt hand I write about the nature of fire]
And with her broken arm (from an abusive marriage, from which she has finally fled), a mother learns the lesson – and passes along to her son – hold on, though your arm be broken. Hold on, though your grasp be weak. Hold on. And grow strong.
Gothic, even macabre, this atmospheric family set piece is haunting. Leigh weaves a spell that draws you in to a world that, seen from the outside is bizarre and weird, but once under her spell, it all seems perfectly logical. Such is the nature of tragedy and coping, I suppose. From the outside, it appears unique, unusual – ”that wouldn’t happen to me’. Within the tragic circle, all things are possible.
Come with me, Julia Leigh says to her reader. And if you do, and let her take you with her, if you allow yourself to float on your back as if in a salty sea…. adrift and be buffeted about, albeit gently…if you do and give her your hand the once, you will surely do so again.
Disturbing, yet calming. This is a miniaturist masterpiece: small, precisely sculpted, and full of fine detail that you need to pay attention to.