by Elizabeth Ellen,
reviewed by Dave Clapper
Elizabeth Ellen’s Blood is such a piece. Does one girl really choke the other? Or is it metaphor? It seems straightforward enough, but the complete lack of response from the second girl blurs the reality. But is it important whether the narrator really chokes her, or is it more important that she wants to choke her? More important still, why does she want to choke her?
Also, what is the relationship between the two girls? Sisters? Half-sisters? Stepsisters? My initial thought on reading the piece is that they are bound by the blood of their father, but do not have a common mother. On reflection, though, it becomes less and less clear. The message of alienation, of trying to find commonalities, holds just as true among blood relations as it does among strangers. How often do we look at our family and think, “Who are you?” Blood delivers this message with an intensity and economy of language that is remarkable.
Ellen’s efficiency with words is absolutely necessary to the piece, to creating the tension required of the story. To draw this story out over pages would detract from the Xanaxicity of the moment, perhaps even give it an afterschool special vibe. Rather, the story is told in sharp bursts that are left to echo in the reader’s ears. This, to me, is a great example of one of the many ways in which flashes can pack more power than longer forms.
On a side note, elimae’s presentation is part of what drew me to the piece. Their design is simple and uncluttered, but with elegant touches that illustrate a real care for the content they publish. And the overall quality of the writing published within is terrific.
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