Everything I’ve read about Sealed doesn’t really do it justice. Though the story is horrifying and gory with a great deal of menace; though there is an interest in what it means to be a parent when facing difficult times; it is also more than a young parent’s ecological horror story. This is more than the usual gore of birth, toil, poverty and death. It’s about things turning on themselves, about judgements and decisions that come in the face of a world changed by our use of it. Not only a world changed, but our bodies changed.
Cutis, a skin disease where our largest organ grows more than it needs to, sealing over the important orifices like mouths, nostrils, ear canals and anuses, is spreading. Thin stretchy white tendrils seem to form overnight, suffocating, poisoning, deafening, maiming. A disease only the richest can afford to fix, a disease whose spread governments are keen to conceal, where ‘natural causes’ like heart-attack (from panic), or obstructed bowel etc. hide the spread of cutis, leaves Alice, a pregnant housing officer whose mother has recently died from cutis, obsessed by the reality of the disease. Though Alice and her partner Pete attempt to escape Alice’s fears of this disease by moving out into the country, way out to a remote mountain house near the forest, the sense of menace never leaves them and all Alice’s promises to put her obsession behind her are forgotten in the face of an epidemic that no one seems able to escape.
All the known fears of parenthood – the strength of your partnership with the other parent; the suitability of your home and environment – added to the issue of being city outsiders in a country town only increase the Alice’s discomfort. Though Pete tries hard to see the bright side of things, it is Alice who has to face the reality of being a mother in a world in which even your own body betrays you.
It’s a fun and fast read that asks all the right questions about what the hell we are doing with the one world we have to live on. I look forward to Naomi Booth’s next work.
I’ll be reviewing Glitch by Lee Rourke next.
If you’ve been wondering why I’ve been slow to review lately, do take a look at my Audio and Ambient page where you can buy the Creative Writing Walkshop, an audio piece with creative writing exercises to inspire you to get writing while you are out and about.