by Julia Armfield

Flatiron Books
2019, 196 pages, $24.99

ISBN 978-1-250-22477-4

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SALT SLOW is a fairly memorable collection from a writer I had not heard of before. So these come as a pleasant surprise:

“Mantis.” A Catholic school girl knows she is different from everybody else, but can’t put a handle on it, until the inevitable school dance comes along and, like the Stephen King story and film, “Carrie,” we come to know what she is REALLY like.

“Cassandra After.” A woman in a single-sex relationship knows the loss of a colleague, a friend, a loved one who returns from the dead, Frankenstein-monster-like, to try to continue the relationship. Is this a story of an inability to let go of past loves, past lives, long after they end? Or is it about the clumsiness and uncertainty of what we strangely confess as love?

The title story, about lovers who exists in a world in which they could be human, but are mostly of the sea, speaks about the relentless steadiness and staunch predictability of the salt-world in which they are trying to be happy while living in.