Black Cloud by Juliet Escoria is the kind of book that stays with you. It bugs you. Little things about yourself remind you of it. So you pick it up again, and check through, reminding yourself of how you felt when you read it.
In essence: Black Cloud
This is not a comfortable book, but it isn’t harrowing either. Although the description at the bookstore suggests that the narrators are all different women, there’s something in the way that it’s written; in the sometimes difficult-to-fathom sense of loss and sheer bleakness, that feels like it’s the same person each time. Just with a different addiction, a different set of terrible choices and reasons (if any), and a different situation.
It’s a book of short stories, very short in some cases, each individually named, but also given their own theme. An emotional theme, from confusion to fear to apathy to revenge. Funnily enough, there is very little emotion played out in the words throughout, and yet, the tales stay with you. They have the slightly detached quality that mental illness sometimes seems to provide to its survivors. There’s nothing romantic about any of the situations; but then there’s really nothing romantic about addiction, mental illness, or recovery, and those are the themes of the book as a whole.
What’s special about it?
Black Cloud is a special book. It gives a woman’s voice amplification in a world that is not a pretty, happy, love-filled place. It lays out mental health like a tattered rug, and picks a few threads out for the reader to look at. There’s a lot of drug-taking in it too, approached in the non-judgmental way that addicts and ex-addicts do. None of the narrators are bitter or sad or even angry; quite the opposite. They are mainly unimpassioned and matter-of-fact, stark on the white page like the kind of pen and ink drawing that is startlingly accurate with only a few lines.
There are also videos available via Vimeo, for each tale. They cleverly put across the same consistent weird feel that the stories provide.
Will you like it?
Anyone who has tramped the lines of addiction, messed up their lives to the point of no-return, or gone down the road of crazy will be able to relate to one or other of the stories, if not all of them. Any woman who has done those things, will probably find even more to connect with. There’s something about the lack of romanticism that makes the tales easier to relate to, because there’s none of the ‘you wouldn’t catch me doing that’ feel to it. People do what they do, and often they don’t know why they do it. They get themselves into terrible, disgusting, and destructive places, and this little book is a record of that.
This book is DRM-free, thanks to it being available at Emily Books, an exclusive, online bookstore that delivers one book per month to subscribers.