I hardly cared that your narrator’s bungled attempt to clarify the difference between a psychiatrist and a cognitive-behaviour therapist (p15) had me longing to introduce you to Sally Vickers, whose novel, The Other Side of You, featured my last therapist but one. In fact it was almost a relief to be jolted out of my stupor by the subsequent revelation (p212) that said cognitive-behavioural therapist was licensed to prescribe antidepressant medication, outing her as a psychiatrist (or some other kind of medical doctor) after all. Yet I’d have gladly renounced my pedantry in exchange for a spark of connection with character or story to lift me above the morass of ennui.
I want to reiterate that I approached this novel from the perspective of its representation of therapy and psychotherapists; others reading from a different standpoint might find genuine rewards. After all
I’m beginning to think all readings are provisional, and that maybe we read … for what we need … at the time (Samantha Ellis, How to Be a Heroine, p141)
Meanwhile, I’ve been struggling to conjure up an adequate response to Charli’s latest flash fiction prompt to write a story about exhaustion. As it seemed too defeatist to write about my exhausted creativity, I’ve followed the lead of some of the other contributors and developed an existing idea, one I thought was over and done with. So, with a nod to Tubby’s hero’s journey along with his dodgy knee, I offer you a surprise – perhaps as much for me as for you – second instalment of the trials of a unicorn:
He was hungry, thirsty and the pain spiked in his knees with every footfall, but he dared not stop. Nor would he look back to the place he’d thought was home. He pressed forward through the alien landscape: the grey rocks shaped like goblins; the pale vegetation that knifed his lips when he bent to eat.
When he saw the shimmering water, he thought his brain was playing tricks with him. But he couldn’t deny the graceful creatures lowering their heads to drink. Would they make space for him among them? Would they shun him and his single horn?
Something of an alien landscape for me also in this story; do let me know what you think.
For the next post in this series, there’ll be a rather more appreciative account of By Blood by Ellen Ullman. I hope you’ll join me.