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Read It: LITTLE SCRATCH by Rebecca Watson

Little Scratch by Rebecca Watson

Rebecca Watson’s new novel little scratch made made me work hard, and I’m not sure it has a ‘payoff’ in a traditional novelistic sense. And yet it has its own rewards, for a patient reader. The language is spiky and fragmentary and the storytelling style approaches its subject–a woman trying to cope with the trauma of sexual abuse–in a manner that mirrors that shattering dislocation.

Many of the pages scan like poetry, which made me want to slow down and read it like a poem. But then I realized that a faster reading pace–the pace of thought–was a much better way to appreciate the novel, and to grasp its meanings. I needed to train myself to read this book.

I also needed to stop questioning what the author is up to, and whether she succeeds. I needed to drop all judgment and expectation. As I read, I kept comparing the novel with other literary experiments with stream-of-consciousness and/or auto-writing, and finding this novel to be relatively artless by comparison, but I just needed to cut it out. I’m comparing it with, you know, Virginia Woolf and James Joyce and perhaps a bit with Gertrude Stein, and in all of these authors’ cases their language is no longer surprising…we’ve learned how to read Joyce by now, like the way we learned to hear Stravinsky without throwing rotten fruit at the stage and walking out, When I began the novel I didn’t know how to read Rebecca Watson. By the end. I did, which makes it a perfect candidate for a re-read.

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