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Motherhood, nurture and violence – these are the themes of Elske Rahill’s remarkable first collection, In White Ink . Rahill brings to life the psychological and physical reality of mothering, pregnancy and childbirth in ways that few others writers have attempted. Here is a biting realism, in the relations between men and women and in the expectations and failures of their assigned roles.
A philandering art dealer tries to give up casual love affairs – seeking only passionate kisses as a substitute. A man recounts his personal history through the things he has stolen from others throughout his life. A couple chart the journey of their five year relationship backwards, from awkward reunion to lovelorn first encounter.
As the sun begins to set over Louisiana one October day in 1943, a young black man faces the final hours of his life: at midnight, eighteen-year-old Willie Jones will be executed by electric chair for raping a white girl – a crime some believe he did not commit. In a tale taut with tension, events unfold hour by hour from the perspectives of nine people involved.
It’s 1996, and Chris Kraus is in Berlin, seeking a distributor for her film Gravity & Grace, described alternately as ‘an experimental 16mm film about hope, despair, religious feeling and conviction’ and ‘an amateur intellectual’s home video expanded to bulimic lengths’ …
There was nothing to do but tell stories. Tell this story. And then? Asked Cora. And then everything, said Finn. Newfoundland, Canada, 1992. When all the fish vanish from the waters, and the cod industry abruptly collapses, it’s not long before the people begin to disappear from the town of Big Running as well.
‘If she could reach back through the years and warn the person she once was, what would she say? … What would she say to the ghosts who now inhabit her days? So many of those she has loved are now nothing but dust and memory.’ At twenty-six, Lillian feels trapped by life.