Elevate Difference

The Girl With The Glass Feet

I am a bit of a daydreamer, as I imagine we all are. When I read, the same rule applies; while the letters unfurl on the page, the images unwind in my mind, doing as they will, relying on my knowledge of the world. I do not like intrusions into that universe. Ali Shaw is a daydreamer as well; however, his dreams have intruded into my own. In The Girl with the Glass Feet, Shaw not only shares the story of Ida Maclaird, her feet, and Midas Crook; Shaw over-shares, too much information and not enough room for imagination. Oily rag skies and overuse of analogies lead to worn dreams.

The story revolves around the everlasting search for redemption. Each character looks to be saved from their glass feet. For some, it is a physical ailment; for others, an emotional, their Achilles heel, if you will. The book’s main character, Ida Maclaird, becomes the very metaphor of Shaw’s analogies after a while—tired and overused. It is disconcerting how helpless and wounded Ida seems. In comparison to the male characters, the women in this book are utterly dispirited.

There is an additional character, however mute and muted in this book. A mythical creature they all seek, knowingly or not, which blanches everything it looks upon. The creature is in the image of a fawn and seems to be female. In a way it assumes the faults many literary women have but not the ones in this book; it forces its will onto others indiscriminately, it enchants and beguiles. Like the glass it is the physical manifestation of a condition. This creature is the one manifestation of the absence of light.

I tend to like how men write about women. Men are kinder or harsher upon women than we are upon ourselves. In this book, Shaw is more kind. His women, while meek and dispirited, are not unreal; they are translucent like the glass that permeates the islands on which they live. Furthermore, these women are beyond redemption. The men who constantly try to save them fail. In that way, the men have no redemption either; tethered to one another they all become immovable works of intricate glass weighing down on one another. Not the islands and their latent hostility, not the mythical creature of white and the purity it enforces by turning everything white as it is, but rather the nature of the people to seek camaraderie and sink when they fail.

Written by: Elisheva Zakheim, March 25th 2011
Tags: novel