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Faber & Faber

The shutter of snow

The shutter of snow

Emily Holmes Coleman

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Some days, Marthe Gail believes she is God; others, Jesus Christ. Her baby, she thinks, is dead. The red light is shining. There are bars on the window. And the voices keep talking. Time blurs; snow falls. The doctors say it is a breakdown; that this is Gorestown State Hospital. Her fellow patients become friends and enemies, moving between the Day Room and Dining Hall, East Hall and West Side, avoiding the Strong Room. Her husband visits and shows her a lock of her baby's hair, but she doesn't remember, yet - until she can make it upstairs, ascending towards release. Shocking and hilarious, tragic and visceral, this experimental portrait of motherhood and mental illness written in 1930 - just before Woolf's 'The Waves' and 33 years before Plath's 'The Bell Jar' - has never felt more visionary.

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