Ah, sweet, sweet, sweet Peach. So short. So sweet. So blunted. So cloying. Maybe it's an acquired taste.
Emma Glass's very original novella Peach is truly unlike anything I've read before. On one hand, it is rich, full of alliteration and word play. The use of language is done with great skill. This is a very poetic story, but unlike some other works of “prose” I've read that felt more like poetry than prose, Peach is merely a very poetic story. From the publisher's description and the opening pages, I expected something along these lines. What I did not expect was the intense surrealism and the black comedy. This is a strange book with some very uncomfortable moments. At times I think it works. At other times, I'm not convinced.
One thing that was very difficult for me to accept was the depiction of characters as objects. Most of these characters are foods including a man made of sausage. Mr. Custard, for instance, truly takes the shape of custard: he is a gelatinous mass of sweetness who must pick himself up from the floor occasionally and take shape. Spud is a giant potato who rolls everywhere. Peach, Sandy, Spud, Mr. Custard, Hair Netty, Green... At first I imagined these characters as Glass described them, but eventually, they took a new shape. I couldn't help but think of Mr. Men and Little Miss and once the image was in my head, there was no replacing it. So imagine Mr. Bump and Little Miss Star, driving around in Murakami-inspired cars with sushi rolls for wheels. That is how I will remember Peach.
Peach is also disturbing. Imagine Mr. Tickle and Little Miss Contrary slashing at one another, trouncing one another, devouring one another in all its visceral cartoonishness. Which leaves me with some questions. Is the surrealist style meant to soften the blow of the violence? Does this ridiculous presentation dull too much the impact of serious subjects? Peach is an uncomfortable story, but how much more uncomfortable could it have been had Glass refrained from her otherwise Saturday morning vibe? It's this presentation that ultimately makes Peach forgettable, a story beautifully rendered, but void of so much potential anguish.