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THE LONG CUT by Emily Hall
As anyone masochistic enough to commit themselves to the artistic life will know, self-doubt is the cornerstone of creation. Are you any good? What the hell are you making? Does anyone care? Will your critical interior monologue ever shut up? In The Long Cut, Emily Hall perfectly captures that incessant nattering and self-abnegation with curiosity, humour and, well, despair.
There’s not much story to speak of. An unnamed “artist” walks along the outskirts of Central Park, wondering what the hell her art is. Something to do with an egg, apparently. She’d better work it out soon; a successful artist friend has hooked her up with a gallery owner. From this minimalist set of non-events, Hall undertakes an exercise of linguistic maximalism. Perfect for conveying the tendency to obsessive overthinking, the conceptual loops and ellipses also allow her to poke at the sacred cows of Art, sometimes to hilarious effect.
In both form and tone, there’s a Bernhardian intensity to much of it, and Hall could easily have left her artist (and readers) to languish. But an epiphany near the end proves a surprising balm, making the The Long Cut an uncanny simulacrum of the artistic process itself. Quite brilliant, really.
The Long Cut by Emily Hall
Dalkey Archive, 2022