White is for Witching


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Readers will probably find this vacillation unsettling, and perhaps ultimately unsatisfying. The plot leaves behind a tangle of loose ends and unresolved conflicts, and some of them were hardly developed before getting abandoned. Yet Oyeyemi skips over this, as if were hardly worth discussing—although the mother's death appears to precipitate everything that happens subsequently in the book. Again and again, the link between cause and effect is tenuous. This compression of key incidents that seem loaded with tragedy into a tiny number of facts undercuts the emotional impact of the novel.

But the poetic qualities in the book compensate, in some degree, for the looseness in plot and structure.

White is for Witching

At times, White is for Witching , moves away from the constraints of the novel, and instead operates as a richly imaginative—if slightly feverish—journal. We continue to read on, despite gaps in the narrative that a more conventional author would have filled. And, to some extent, Oyeyemi earns my praise for infusing even the most outlandish details in this story with a plausible psychological resonance. But I could imagine reading accounts of just this sort in collection of psychiatric case studies.

And this is more than just the chronicle of a medical condition. It is a legit horror novel. Ted Gioia writes about music, literature and popular culture. August 14 , This is my year of horrible reading.

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

I am reading the classics of horror fiction during the course of , and each week will write about a significant work in the genre. You are invited to join me in my annus horribilis. During the course of the year—if we survive—we will have tackled zombies, serial killers, ghosts, demons, vampires, and monsters of all denominations. Check back each week for a new title My Year of Horrible Reading Week 1: Dracula By Bram Stoker Week 2: Carrie By Stephen King Week 5: The Passion According to G.

By Clarice Lispector Week 6: T ales By H. G host Stories of an Antiquary By M. White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi.


  • Jane Shilling enjoys the polyphonic layers of Helen Oyeyemi's White is for Witching;
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To purchase, click on image. Follow Ted Gioia on Twitter at www. The State of the Art Ballard, J. The Atrocity Exhibition Ballard, J.

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The Crystal World Ballard, J. Childhood's End Clarke, Arthur C. Babel Delany, Samuel R. Dhalgren Delany, Samuel R. Her mother, Lily Silver, is dead, killed in Haiti when her twins — Miranda and her brother Eliot — were They have a tendency to move on, giving as their reason nothing more tangible than a sense of inchoate dread.

White is for Witching by Helen Oyeyemi

Certainly something is amiss. Miranda suffers from an eating disorder, pica — the habit of eating objects that are not food. Her taste is for chalk and plastic cutlery, and the effect on a household that survives by selling hospitality is disturbing. White Is for Witching is a work of literary polyphony: For while the narrative is predicated on the ghostly inheritance of madness, its supernatural element is the least engaging thing in it. Still, time is on her side. Already her technical skill as a novelist is remarkable, her range of reference formidable and her use of language virtuosic.

All she needs now is to allow her talent to ripen. Get the best at Telegraph Puzzles.

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