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The Word Burners

by Beryl Fletcher

The power of language is exposed both in the plot and the characters' thoughts, creativity, fears and obsessions; the power of language to shock with some dense and self-conscious passages as the characters wrestle with their uncertainties, both personal and academic. It's also a study of how obsession can completely take control, with tragic results. Certainly a book that remains with the reader long after the last page has been read.

Extract

Isabel feels afraid because she cannot like these women, they make her as angry as men do. She cries silently and in anguish, where is my place, who can I love? I cannot love men, they are too powerful and too violent, they cannot live without bursting out with bombs, fists, worlds of death and fantasy, they would even make war with the stars .... No-one listens to what a lesbian says, everything she says is mediated through the category of lesbian. Who really speaks when a lesbian speaks? The category speaks, not the woman.
Isabel says I want everything cut and dried. I can't cope with things that appear to cancel each other out. I always look for a happy ending .... I'm in mourning for the loss of intimacy between us. It was wonderful when she stayed here. She told me everything about her relationship with Maggie. Things have already happened between her and Wendy that I know nothing about. She'll never confide in me about this relationship because I'm in a position of power over Wendy.

Parallels

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
 

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