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Girl & Flame: A Novella

by Melissa Reddish

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21141,054,595 (3.75)3
A girl bonds with a piece of flame leftover from the inferno that consumed her brother, father, and lover. Through this relationship, the girl explores her complicated family history and her place in a world where trees are cruel and deceptive, ghosts rise from abandoned cabins, and the quiet hum of the forest permeates even the most dehumanizing office buildings. Meanwhile, the flame discovers new fuel: human need, hot and vile. Both the girl and the flame journey into their own suffering to find answers on the other side. Told in a series of innovative flash vignettes, Melissa Reddish's Girl & Flame is an inventive and thoughtful meditation on the intersection of grief, longing, and the natural world.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 15 (next | show all)
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
This book left me astonished. The thrill is great! ( )
  MarianaHB | Aug 2, 2022 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Girl & Flame is not the kind of work I would typically read, but Melissa Reddish’s melancholy lyricism pulled me into the story. The novella weaves a tale about grief and madness and how they can consume and overpower despite one’s best efforts. Reddish utilizes dialogue and both the girl’s and the flame’s inner monologues to guide readers through their complex relationship; this technique allows the novella to take on a lulling cadence and strength.

The flame’s voice is dark, compelling, and wrenching as it draws Girl to itself and works to consume her and whatever else catches its fancy. This struggle is the author’s reminder and reflection on how easily, even willingly, we lose ourselves to self-destruction, especially in the face of longing and sadness.

Girl & Flame is full of life lessons and the kinds of emotional battles that people struggle through when they are trying to work through loss. This is highlighted through Reddish’s writing style, which wraps the reader in vignettes that are reminiscent of the disjointed, fragmented flashbacks that eventually mark a lot of our memories. ( )
  eudoh | May 4, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Poetic prose about the subjects in the title with not much else to hold it together. ( )
  bookwyrmm | Jan 31, 2017 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
Here's the gist: A flame destroys a house, killing the Girl's father and brother and lover. All she is left with is a bit of the flame that becomes her companion.

So yes: this is a work of surrealism. With, you know, some postmodern touches and stuff. Which means I am obliged to say what I always say in these situations: this stuff is way more fun to write than to read. This is still true. But it refers more to the novella as a whole than to each individual page.

Most of the--let's call them chapters of this novella are about a page long. The publisher made some strange design decisions (notably inconsistent font sizes to make things fit nicer---coincidentally my only real regret re The Fob Bible http://amzn.to/2dzfMC9), but generally, these bitesize portions of this strange world are really just right. Rather like prose poems along a common theme.

There are many things I could say about this book, but what most interests me is its classic take on same-sex friendship. the novel seems to suggest that the Girl and the equally female Flame end up with a closer relationship than the Girl ever had---or could possibly have had---with her father or her brother or her lover. Ultimately, it's her friendship with another woman that is most fulfilling.

Classically of course, this idea is ancient. Most of my top-of-the-head examples are male (David and Jonathan, Gilgamesh and Enkidu), but hey---what about Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn? I mean---before they started kissing?

Anyway, the book has some interesting things to say about female friendship. And it has some rather beautiful moments at the end. Is it worth reading? Well, depends. I love this kind of thing in film, but when it comes to reading, I'ld still rather write. ( )
  thmazing | Sep 30, 2016 |
This review was written for LibraryThing Early Reviewers.
"The smoke was tremendous - choking flesh made sky. It was even lovelier than the flames, great hands wrenching wood from stone, not a surgeon's hands - anatomical, precise - but a drunk old pugilist ready to go down swinging. Or maybe they were more like teeth, ripping and tearing in one long devouring breath the entirety of my childhood."


In Girl & Flame a bond is stoked between a girl and an ember after the devastation of a fire that takes her father, brother, and lover and forces her out into the world. Through this bond both make discoveries about the nature of the world around and inside them. Both grow, both suffer.

In a lushly fleshed prose, Melissa Reddish explores the consuming forces of grief and human need. The flash vignettes employed in this exploration weren't new to me having previously read [b:Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine|25778097|Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine, Fine|Diane Williams|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1439253858s/25778097.jpg|45627730] by Diane Williams. This is the first time, however, that I have felt enamored with this style, felt that it added another dimension to experiencing the story. A quite vital dimension in fact.

As Girl and Flame make their way through their world, the reader consumes their past and present perceptions. Girl struggles with a past that offered belonging and ownership, though a distinctly troubled one at that. Flame struggles with the urge to grow, to roar, to become enmeshed. With natures revealed that are steeped in the wake of trauma and codependency, a unique experience of genuine emotion and personal revelation outpours.

While this novella is a very short read, it's intense. Like read this in one sitting and walk away from it with a not-quite-sealegs pitch and roil beneath you for a time. For awhile you might wonder if Flame leapt off the page and deposited herself in your brain to spark slowly consuming cinders. Both it's depth and it's easily edible style leave an impression. In short, it's well worth the read (and another, and another).

I'd like to thank James R. Gapinksi, managing editor of Conium Press, and Melissa Reddish for the opportunity to read and review an early reviewer's copy of Girl & Flame. I received this book from Conium Press through LibraryThing in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  lamotamant | Sep 22, 2016 |
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A girl bonds with a piece of flame leftover from the inferno that consumed her brother, father, and lover. Through this relationship, the girl explores her complicated family history and her place in a world where trees are cruel and deceptive, ghosts rise from abandoned cabins, and the quiet hum of the forest permeates even the most dehumanizing office buildings. Meanwhile, the flame discovers new fuel: human need, hot and vile. Both the girl and the flame journey into their own suffering to find answers on the other side. Told in a series of innovative flash vignettes, Melissa Reddish's Girl & Flame is an inventive and thoughtful meditation on the intersection of grief, longing, and the natural world.

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