Vallen is als vliegen
Over a quiet Spring break by the sea I read Manon Uphoff’s Vallen is als vliegen (“Falling is like flying”). It follows an adult woman who, triggered by the death of her estranged sister, recounts experiences of child sexual abuse and emotional neglect. I read it like a fever dream, in a single day.
Much like most people on Earth, I experience great discomfort when I read detailed accounts of child sexual abuse. Next to the “ewww, I don’t want to think about that stuff” there is the ever so peculiar fear that one may find the content entertaining, or worse, arousing. Luckily, I don’t and haven’t ever. Nevertheless, the fear sits in me like a hot potato that I swallowed too soon.
What this book does really well is present a form that distorts and confuses almost as much as abuse does. Another story that does this well is Carmen Maria Machado’s In the Dream House. After all, the only way to demonstrate that trauma evades language and reason is by slicing it in puzzling fragments.