W LITTLE DEATHS
hile poor writing trips over its own feet and good writing moves nimbly, great writing travels. Newcastleborn Emma Flint has successfully conjured the humid drear of 1960s New York in her heartsick debut novel.
The tale of Ruth Malone, a single mother whose two young children go missing, Little Deaths dances back and forth in time, with every moment since Ruth’s first awful realisation of her loss disappearing into an endless, after-shocked now. This is less a whodunit than a howl of outrage at how women are put on trial for what they are, rather than their actions, and Little Deaths is particularly good at getting under Ruth’s itching skin.
A brittle, bird-like lady with more admirers than common decency decrees, Ruth wraps herself in self-disgust to “keep the wrong part of her, the messy part, hidden” – the Little Deaths of the title also referring, it seems, to her constant selfmortification.
Much more conventional, and less compelling, is a subplot following a reporter, Pete Wonicke, who gets too close to the case and has to shoulder a little too much exposition. But this is Ruth Malone’s story and, in the main, the rawness of her grief, combined with Flint’s literary elegance, is often hard to bear.
This is one writer who’s definitely going places