When you first learn of her desire for suffering, it seems to be caused by her numbness, the only way out of which, for her, is to experience physical pain. She goes down this route, first self-inflicting it, then resorting to the help of others. Things swiftly progress from clothes pegs to nipple clamps, with a nail torn off in between, and then to a dominatrix’s whip. It appears that Cora is, after all, able to feel things: she usually needs a fix after realising she has failed on all fronts, or when overcome by anger towards her family. The numbness is still occasionally mentioned, although its significance is somewhat diluted by emotions raging inside. Perhaps this is what happens when you are deeply troubled; reading about other people’s conditions is a bit like listening to their dreams: to be able to interpret them you need a degree.
Anna Aslanyan reviews Heidi James‘s Wounding.